Legend has it that on this day in 1693, the French Monk Dom Pierre Perignon, invented Champagne when a wine he was making started a secondary fermentation in the bottle, so when he opened the bottle it produced a fine, bubbly mousse. Upon tasting this sparkly beverage, it tasted so special that he was inspired to exclaim “Come quickly, I am tasting stars!”.
As is often the case, however, the truth of this legend is questionable at best. Sparkling wine almost certainly existed before Dom Perignon’s time, with the oldest references to it dating back to the Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint Hilaire, in 1531.
That said, these early bubblies probably tasted very different to the refined sparkling product that became known as Champagne (after the French region where it was perfected), so even if the discovery of sparkling wine cannot be attributed to Dom Perignon, he can take credit for establishing the principles of modern champagne making that are still in use today.
And that’s more than enough justification to pop a cork to celebrate the great man.
Now here’s an interesting story:
In a medical study from 2007, scientists from the Universities of Reading and Cagliari showed that moderate Champagne consumption can potentially help the brain cope with the trauma of stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. According to the research the high levels of the antioxidant polyphenol in Champagne can help prevent the deterioration of brain cells from stress and trauma. The study was done on mice – one group of mice was fed a Blanc de Blanc Champagne, a second a Blanc de Noir, and a control group got no bubbly at all. When the three groups were subsequently exposed to high levels of neurotoxins (simulating the effect of brain trauma), it was found that the groups who had previously been fed champagne, had higher levels of brain-cell restoration compared to the control group.
Now isn’t that just the best news you’ve heard all day? Cheers!