Sparkling Wine History

Sparkling Wine History

Have you ever wondered where sparkling wine was invented? You may assume it was invented in France or Spain, as many do. But did you know that sparkling wine was actually invented by the British?

The thing that makes sparkling wine fizzy is its significant levels of carbon dioxide. The English preferred bubbles in their wine and would import non-sparkling wine from the champagne region of France and store it in their cellars over the winter. This would cause it to undergo a secondary fermentation process.

While it has been thought that sparkling wine was invented by Dom Perignon, they were myths that circulated from a marketing campaign, coincidentally from the company that produced Dom Perignon champagne. He did however make some improvements to sparkling wine by using stronger bottles and closure systems. This aided in containing the buildup of pressure within the bottles.

Pressure in a champagne bottle can reach as high as 90 psi (pounds per square inch), so bottles were commonly broken over time. Cellar workers would have to wear a heavy iron mask to prevent injury from spontaneously bursting bottles. Just one bottle’s disintegration could cause a chain reaction in a cellar causing loss of anywhere from 20-90% of its stock to instability. It took a while to develop the correct combination of glass, pressure, and blend to achieve the final product.

Over time sparkling wine has grown and evolved. Rediscovering the use of cork stoppers was one useful way to ensure the fermentation process would restart. In low temperatures the fermentation process would be prematurely halted, leaving behind some residual sugar and dormant yeast. But when the wine was shipped to and bottled in England, the fermentation process could restart as the warmer weather helped the corked wine to build pressure from carbon dioxide gas. When opened, the wine would now be bubbly. Another finding was that adding sugar to wine led it to sparkle.  Adding sugar to wine before bottling could cause almost any wine to sparkle.

There is a long history behind this bubbly, fun wine. The steps, experiments, and discoveries over the years have led to us enjoying some of our favorite sparkling wines and champagnes. And remember, if the wine matters, so does the glass. So, make sure you check out our selection of stemware perfect for all your wine needs!


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