With the Jubilee on the horizon, take a read of some of our all-time favourite Royal Champagne facts!
- In Reims, an iconic cathedral occupies the city centre and is the biggest tourist attraction second to drinking Champagne. During the Hundred Years’ War, the cathedral was actually occupied by the English before being liberated by Joan of Arc in 1429.
- In popular but inaccurate history, Champagne was invented by the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon, who died on September 14th, 1715. He allegedly discovered the 'methode champenoise' at the Abbey of Hautvilliers in 1697. However, some 35 years earlier in 1662, an Englishman, Christopher Merret, delivered a paper to the newly-formed Royal Society revealing how to add sugar to a finished wine to create a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Merret was also one who helped invent the special Champagne bottles that prevented explosions during the second fermentation. You are welcome France!
- J. J. Kanne, who represented himself as Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s travel director, wrote to Veuve Clicquot in 1868 asking the house to send two baskets of 50 bottles each to the British embassy in Paris. Not long after, Kanne wrote to Madame Clicquot: “I assure you that the wine was served at the Queen’s table every day.”
- Also during Queen Victoria’s reign, which lasted from 1837 until her death in 1901, the English—always eager to codify—began issuing royal warrants to Champagne producers. Currently, over 1,100 royal warrants have been granted to tradespeople who supply goods. Eight of these warrants have been bestowed on Champagne houses. You are welcome France!
- When George V ascended to the English throne in 1911, he frequently served guests his “special bottle” of Bollinger at Balmoral Castle, the royal estate in the Scottish Highlands. The bottle in question was Bollinger’s basic non-vintage brut.
- Winston Churchill began drinking Pol Roger Champagne as early as 1908. The bond between statesman and vintner was forged the moment Churchill met Odette Pol-Roger at the British Embassy in 1944. The prime minister was so smitten by her beauty and wit that he named a racehorse after her—one that, incidentally, won a stakes race on the day that Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1952. When Churchill died in 1965, Pol Roger put a black border on its labels, and in 1984 it launched, with the Churchill family’s permission, the Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill drank about 42,000 bottles of Champagne in his life time. This might not seem like a lot since he lived a long life of 90 years. But if you calculated down, it means that he would have drank roughly over a bottle a day since the day he was born!
- While many royals historically began their daily drinking with a glass of Champagne, Queen Elizabeth, now 91, likes to finish her day with one. According to her late cousin Margaret Rhodes, the queen begins her daily imbibing with a pre-lunch gin and Dubonnet on the rocks with lemon, and she finishes the day with a glass or two of Champagne before bedtime. My kind of gal!