How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times

Book - 2005
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From the time of Attila the Hun to
the Germans of World War II, waves of invaders
have tried to conquer the verdant region of
Champagne in northern France. Yet this strife-torn
land is also the birthplace of the world's favorite wine: champagne.

In this engrossing history, Don and Petie Kladstrup show how this sparkling wine, born of bloodshed, became a symbol of glamour, good times, and celebration. It's a story filled with larger-than-life characters:Dom P#65533;rignon, the father of champagne, who, contrary to popular belief, worked his entire life to keep bubbles out of champagne; the Sun King, Louis XIV, who rarely drank anything but; and Napoleon, who, in trying to conquer the world, introduced it to champagne.

Then there were the generations of local vintners who struggled to keep their houses running. Claude Mo#65533;t hauled his bottles to Versailles and gave Madame de Pompadour her first taste of bubbly, prompting her memorable quote, "Champagne is the only wine that lets a woman remain beautiful after she has drunk it." There was also Charles-Camille Heidsieck, known as "Champagne Charlie," who popularized champagne in America and ended up being imprisoned as a spy during the Civil War.

World War I would be Champagne's greatest test of all, a four-year nightmare in which nearly everything the Champenois had worked and fought for was destroyed "in a rain of iron and fire." German bombardment drove thousands of people underground to seek refuge in the huge cellars of the champagne houses, where among the bottles you would find schools, hospitals, shops, municipal offices, and troops.

Amazingly, grapes continued to be harvested even as bombs fell, and the wartime vintages are considered to be among the finest ever made.

An unforgettable history, Champagne will forever change how you look at a glass of bubbly.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2005.
ISBN: 9780060737924
Characteristics: xii, 286 p. :,ill. ;,22 cm.
Additional Contributors: Kladstrup, Petie


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Jan 12, 2016

Being part of the middle-class, most of the sparkling wine I drink is competitively priced, such as prosecco and cava. But for a special occasion, there's nothing like sipping millions of fine little bubbles from Champagne! And after reading this book, it only makes me appreciate the region and its people even more. It's truly ironic that a drink synonymous with good times and elegance is made on a piece of land that has been the site of some truly gruesome battles since the time of Attila the Hun. Indeed, the chapters I found most interesting dealt with what the Champenois went through during the First World War as their cities were completely decimated, forcing citizens to live in glorified caves until the Armistice. From Dom Dom Perignon to Champagne Charlie, the fascinating stories in this book make it essential reading for fizz fans. My only critique was that it ended at around 1945; it would have been interesting to learn about what happened to the industry during the post-war period. Otherwise, a fantastic read!

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