Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Dom Perignon - International Man of Mystery

The statue of Dom Perignon that stands outside Moët et Chandon.
One of the biggest and most widely spread myths within the wine world is about Dom Perignon and the invention of Champagne.
There are still a lot of people who believe it was Dom P who 'invented' fizz and is therefore responsible for the wines of Champagne as we know them today, however if you believe that: you stoooopid.

So, even if you hadn't heard this myth, you have probably heard of Dom Perignon but may of wondered just who the mother-flippin-heck he actually is. No? Well I'm going to tell you anyway so stop talking at the back of the class and listen.

Dom Perignon was a Benedictine monk who was alive between 1639 and 1715. He devoted most of his time to improving the wines of the Champagne region, which at that time where red and white still wines. A lot of the methods that he developed have stuck around until today.

A day in the life of a 17th century Benedictine monk
In DP's time, due to the storage conditions of the wine in Champagne, the wines would often stop fermenting when the temperature dropped in winter. they would then be bottled, but because the fermentation was stopped prematurely by the drop of temperature, it would start again within the bottle as summer came around. This caused fizz to form in the wines. Great right? That's Champagne invented!

WHOA THERE - its not that straight forward you impulsive son of a Bacchus.

The problem when this happened was that the glass bottles generally weren't strong enough to put up with the pressure that was building inside and would explode. Occasionally, whole cellars of Champagne wine would be destroyed. It would be like the end of V for Vendetta, except fizzier.

So if anything, Dom Perignon would have disliked the fizz that would be found in certain bottles and would have put it down as a fault.

So how did the whole rumour of Dom Perignon being the inventor of Champagne come about? It would have been long after his death that the Champagne industry felt they would benefit from having a founding-father type figure, kind of like a CEO Of Wine Awesomeness (I want that job title) and due to Perignon's success as a wine maker and his impact on the industry, he simply fit the bill perfectly.

In the very early 1900s Moët et Chandon, being the super-mega-huge company that it is, bought the
brand name of Dom Perignon from Eugene Mercier, who had originally registered it. And since 1921, Moët have produced their prestige cuvée 'Dom Perignon'.

The brand is now associated with rappers (see my previous post), footballers, council-estate lottery winners and anyone else with more money than sense.

If you want to get your hands on the 2003 Dom Perignon, head to the trusty Majestic, where you can pick up and bottle in a very smart gift pack for £134.00 - it's really quite tasty.

Ever tried Dom Perignon? Let us know what you think either by commenting below, or on our twitter and facebook pages

Photos taken from ltdan &  loulouk's photostreams respectively, under the Creative Commons License

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