We always see it during victory celebrations in various sporting events. The champion or winner will shake a bottle of bubbly before spraying its expensive content of champagne on teammates, opponents and the crowd. It has become an integral part of celebrations, and this began when the champagne maker Moet et Chandon started to sponsor Formula One and offered its product to those in the winner’s circle. In the Le Mans 24-hour rally in 1967, Dan Gurney celebrated his victory by spraying the other drivers.
Champagne, more than any other drink, is also preferred during toasts for weddings and other important events. It has become associated with luxury, festivities and rites of passage.
Champagne has generally been used as a generic and catchall term for all sparkling wines. Strictly speaking, however, champagne is the sparkling wine produced specifically in the Champagne region of France. Its creation follows very strict rules, the most notable of which is the need for a second fermentation of the wine in a bottle in order to create carbonation.
Some countries have banned the use of the term champagne for sparkling wines not produced in Champagne in France. These include the United States, Canada, Australia and Chile. There are around 70 other countries that follow this rule as the use of term champagne is legally protected by the 1891 Treaty of Madrid and reaffirmed by the Treaty of Versailles in 1918. As a result, the term champagne is used only by sparkling wine from the region of the same name that follows the standards defined in its appellation.
The champagne appellation law is so strict that the grapes used in the making of champagne are grown according to specific rules, and only in designated plots in the Champagne region. The primary grapes used are Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir.
Champagne Through the Years
Champagne has been associated with nobility and royalty because it was regularly used during the anointment of French kings and celebrations held by the monarchy. Monarchs from other parts of Europe took note of it and helped spread the word.
Champagne has been around since even before the medieval period. Romans planted its seeds in vineyards in the northeast of France, and monks produced it for use in the Catholic mass.
At that time, the region of Burgundy, which lies to the south of Champagne, was already known for its wine. Champagne wanted to create its own wine, but its different climate made it difficult to ripen the grapes, resulting to a lighter-bodied taste because of higher levels of acidity and lower levels of sugar.
It achieved a breakthrough with the creation in 1531 of the Blanquette de Limoux, which was invented by monks from the Benedictine order in the abbey of Saint Hilaire. The wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had been completed. Sugar was then added to the finished wine to create a second round of fermentation. The result is the champagne as we know it today.
Benefits of Champagne
People usually get easily intoxicated after its consumption, compared to other drinks. This is probably because of the carbonated water included in the drink, making it easy for the body to absorb the alcohol.
Still, champagne has been found to have trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, lithium and zinc. It also has high amounts of polyphenols, which can help prevent the deterioration of brain cells as a result of oxidative stress. Moderate consumptions of the drink has also been found to help patients of stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The Most Expensive Bottle of Champagne in the World
While champagne is the preferred drink of the nobility, none is as expensive as the Armand de Brignac, which is also known as the Ace of Spades. It is non-vintage champagne created by the Cattier family from the family’s Premier Cru vineyards. It was first introduced in 2006. The champagne boasts of a full and fruity character and taste and contains all the primary grapes, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
Its distinctive gold opaque metallic bottles with pewter Ace of Space label identify the champagne. It was adjudged to be the best champagne in the world after a blind taste test involving wine experts conducted by Fine Champagne in 2009. The name Armand de Brignac was actually a dormant brand from the late 1940s, but revived in 2006 because of a rule that requires the use of an existing brand for a wine to be called a champagne.
An anonymous and young British businessman involved in foreign exchange trading pre-ordered a Nebuchadnezzar of Armand de Brignac Midas weighing 45 kilograms at the Playground nightclub in Liverpool’s Hilton hotel. The bottle cost $200,000 and had to be carried to the businessman’s table by a couple of waiters.
The huge bottle has already been proven to be a showstopper at two previous events, attracting a lot of attention in a party in Las Vegas and in another party in Parklane’s OneForOne nightclub when the Champagne King Don Johnson bought a Nebuchadnezzar of the same bubbly for $192,000.
The businessman had ten friends with him, but was soon surrounded by scores of other people when the bottle was being brought to their table. He was extremely generous in giving out a shot of the champagne to everyone in the club. The giant bottle is equivalent to 40 standard bottles of the expensive champagne.
Aside from the huge bottle, the businessman also ordered 40 single bottles of the Ace of Spades and $6,400 worth of Grey Goose vodka. He ended up with a $327,000 bill, and added a $30,000 tip for the club’s staff.
The club itself contributed to the drama of the purchase of the expensive champagne. The club has been marketing itself as a six star Las Vegas luxury hotel located in Merseyside, and they made sure that the night would become memorable by playing the iconic anthem of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, called The Dawn of Man, while the Nebuchadnezzar of Armand de Brignac Midas was being served to the businessman.
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