Saturday, August 8, 2009

'Drinking the Stars' - Dom Pérignon, Advertising, and Facts

"Aug. 4, 1693: Dom Pérignon 'Drinks the Stars' "
This Day in Tech, Wired (August 3, 2009)

"1693: Champagne is said to have been invented on this day by Dom Pierre Pérignon, a French monk. It almost certainly isn't true.

"Because Dom Pérignon lived at the Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers at the time of his 'invention,' the village in France's Champagne region, not far from Èpernay, is generally regarded as the birthplace of the bubbly.

"But like many historical claims, the night they invented champagne appears more fanciful than fact. Sparkling wine certainly existed before Dom Pérignon arrived on the scene, although it would be unrecognizable today as champagne. But whether he invented the champagne method single-handedly is doubtful.

"This much is true, though: He made an enormous contribution by developing the technique that finally produced a successful white wine from red wine grapes, something vintners had been trying to accomplish for years. That was a major step toward the development of modern champagne, probably the major step...."

This Wired article gives a pretty good overview of what Dom Pérignon contributed to the development of champagne - and what he didn't. That "drinking the stars" remark, it seems, goes back to an advertisement published a couple centuries after Dom Pérignon's time, for example.

It's got some factoids of the sort I enjoy seeing: like the name Champagne coming from Latin campania, used by Romans because the land there resembles that of Campania, south of Rome.

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