Popping corks and tasting stars – celebrating the invention of Champagne

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!”.

Popping a cork in celebration of the father of champagne, Dom Perignon.
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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!

Feast on some cherries on International Fruit Day

July 1st is International Fruit Day. It also appears to be International Joke Day, but that’s another story for another time…

From a bit of online research, I’ve discovered that there is a specific fruit assigned to each year, a Fruit of the Year, if you will. 2009 was the year of the apple, in 2010 it was the pineapple’s turn, last year was mango’s chance to shine, and this year we celebrate the cherry – a favourite for deserts, yoghurt, cakes, sweets and shakes, but also wonderful eaten by itself.

The cherry, almost too good to be true – beautiful, tasty and good for you!
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In mythology, cherries can symbolize fertility, merrymaking, and festivity. In Japan, where cherry blossoms are the national flower, cherries represent beauty, courtesy, and modesty. The ancient Chinese regarded the fruit as a symbol of immortality.

In addition to being blessed with gorgeous looks, cherries are also something of a health marvel, packing a mighty punch for such a small fruit. They are an abundant source of anthocyanin (the red pigment in berries), an antioxidant which has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation, and is also said to aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanin has also been found to benefit the brain, improving one’s memory abilities. Cherries furthermore contain melatonin, an antioxidant known to regulate heart rhythms and the body’s sleep patterns. A veritable vitamin bomb, cherries are also rich in Vitamins A, C, E, potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Go on and feast on some cherries – they’re good for you, and that’s no joke…