A Brief History of Champagne And Its Traditions In Russia

Submitted by wayin on Sun, 10/23/2016 - 19:04

Champagne was an invention of a very attentive and diligent monk Dom Perignon. His long and boring evenings he used to spend in his cellar, experimenting with wine. Like all wine producers at that time, he was aware of "the bubble problem", so he spent 15 years of his life trying to cure it with no success. Finally, he gave up and invented sparkling Champagne. After that, he began to pour wine in bottles, using a special cork for it. That was in 1668, and that sparkling Champagne had the taste that we know now.

History of Champagne in Russia

Another famous name in the wine industry is Clicquot. Nicole Clicquot, the widow of a winemaker, was a young and very active lady. While the defeat of Napoleon in the war with Russia in 1812 plunged France into chaos, Nicole was brave and determined enough to send 20,000 bottles of champagne to Russia. Most of that wine didn’t reach the border. However, in 1814, officers managed to relish a perfect taste of a real French Champaign from the remnants of Madame Clicquot's batch. The woman saved her business, and Russia got acquainted with Champagne!

No royal ball or social event could be held without Champagne anymore. A lot of bets were made for the case of Champagne. Beautiful and famous actresses were bathed in Champagne by gallant Hussars.

History of Champagne in Russia

Actually, Russia has had some quite successful attempts in creating sparkling wine. Prince Leo Golitsyn is considered to be the founder of Russian Champagne. His persistent experiments with grapes grown on his own estate of Novyi Svet in the Crimea brought him positive results. His sparkling wine was presented on the world's fair "The Exposition Universelle" in Paris in 1900 together with the best French wine samples, which all participated in the blind tasting. To everyone's surprise, the jury unanimously awarded the Gold Medal to Golitsyn's Russian champagne Novyi Svet.

That's how Prince got an additional incentive to develop his wine business. He planted new vineyards on the shore of the lake Abrau and the river Dyurso and invited the best wine specialists from France to help him produce and improve his delicious drink. Meanwhile, the wine from the Golitsyn’s Crimean estate was appreciated by the Royal Court and served at the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II.

History of Champagne in Russia

However, Russia has always had a reputation of an unstable country. The soviet authority came, the Royal Family was overthrown, French specialists left the territory of Russia, and Russian Champagne was immediately renamed to Soviet Champagne. Production technologies had been simplified. New authorities introduced a fast method of making sparkling wines, which resulted in lower quality and worse taste. It was very far from the traditions of classical Champagne. It was a fake. Even the cork became plastic.

So, Soviet Champagne (or Sovietskoye shampanskoye) lost its magic and simply turned into a mass product. Although there is no Soviet Union anymore, it is still possible to buy Soviet Champagne in stores. It became a national party drink. But we sincerely advise that you not pay attention to it. Actually, Russia is returning its old traditions of making true Champagne today. On the Russian market, you can now find a lot of samples of sparkling wines that were made following the classical technology. Novyi Svet in Crimea and Abrau Dyurso in Krasnodar Krai were prepared that way. So, we should thank Leo Golitsyn for his vineyards and his passion for wine. You can find the information about a traditional champagne making method used on the label of a bottle.

History of Champagne in Russia

Both Novyi Svet and Abrau Dyurso factories organize excursions with tastings and gastronomic tours. Yet, you don't have to travel too far, either to the Crimea or to Krasnodar Krai, to try real Russian Champagne. You can buy it in Moscow in a wine shop and almost in any supermarket.

Note that according to the law, you cannot buy alcohol in shops between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. AND… if you are under 18.

What toast to say when you're on a Russian party with your Russian friends? Check it out here