Knowing about my interest in culinaria, my friend Mailin has lent me a book called ‘Veuve Cliquot’ by Tilar J.Mazzeo. The book tells the story of the world famous champagne empire and more precisely of the life of the widow Cliquot, the woman who built the foundation for Veuve Cliquot’s history and after who the brand is still named today. Interestingly, veuve literally translates as widow, so next time you sip on a glass of champagne you might picture the face of the widow Cliquot :)
Reading the book, you will not only learn a bit about the family’s life but it will also lead you through the history of champagne, the classy drink we like to have at special occasions. I have to admit that I was impressed. Little did I know that champagne is only about 300 years old.
What might also be new in this context is that champagne was not determined to be the fancy apéro drink as we know it today. Over decades local winemakers tried to avoid the sparkling bubbles, which were a result of unfavorable technical and meteorological circumstances. Back in the late 1700s, wine was sold in barrels and the quality of glass bottles and cork was not sufficient enough to provide the standard needed to ship wine in bottles and guarantee the wine’s quality over a longer period of time. Often times, harsh winters led to such amplitudes in temperature that rows of barrels would explode in the winemakers’ basements when spring arrived with warm temperatures. And since the wine making process was a completely manual process at that time, the wine’s fermentation could bring along a lot of surprises, not only bubbles but also grave variations in color.
Most likely, Veuve Cliquot is what we would describe as an entrepreneur today: She had the vision to establish a new product in very uncertain times, which were marked by war, life-threatening epidemics and embargos all across Europe. Nevertheless, after her husband’s early death and as one of the first women in a fully male dominated world, she took the risk thriving for worldwide reputation.
This book is an easy lecture, which will teach you a lot of interesting facts and I promise that it will make you want to plan your next vacation in La Champagne in France, the champagne’s birthplace!