Our love affair with Dom Perignon

By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
Nov. 20, 2002
The creation of what is known as champagne is generally credited to a French monk named Dom Perignon (1638-1715). He was the cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvillers near Epernay.
It is said when he first tasted the wine to which he had added the touch of sugar and yeast which gave champagne its now highly prized effervescence, he called out to his fellows, "Come quickly. I am tasting stars."
Thus began the world's love affair with champagne.
With the invention of a new technique of glass blowing that created the stout bottle we know today, and the discovery of cork stoppers, the wine became the beverage of fashion during the reign of Louis XIV and his mistress, Madame de Maintenon.
As reported in a book called "The Wines and Domaines of France," the ladies in particular liked the wine.
Dom Perignon also discovered the method of making white champagne out of dark grapes, primarily pinot noir. It is a technique and a grape still used today.
While sparkling wine is made in many countries, including our own California, "champagne" is not a generic term for any or all of them. It is the protected name of a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown within a specific, legally defined area of northern France.
It is the true French champagnes that will be served at Thursday evening's wine tasting.
There will be seven wines on the tasting list, six from France and the seventh from California but made by a prominent producer who decided to open a branch in California using American grapes, but the French technique.
Champagne: Not just
for special occasions
Americans have the tendency to think of champagne as primarily a wine with which to celebrate special occasions weddings, graduations, holidays, anniversaries and such. Certainly that is appropriate.
But the truth is champagne is the best food wine of all. It marries beautifully with a wide variety of dishes, canapes including cheese, crackers, even olives. It is outstanding with roast chicken, duck, turkey, either hot or cold. If you would like the perfect pairing for your Thanksgiving dinner, champagne would be an outstanding choice.
It is an excellent dessert wine, goes nicely with river fish and salmon whether baked, grilled, pan fried or smoked. Try a good champagne with shellfish, shrimp, mussels, crab, lobster, even oysters and scallops. It also marries pork or veal well.
It does not pair as well with dishes accompanied by a cream sauce, although it does compliment delicate cream soups or cold soups such as vichyssoise. It is not recommended, however, for red meat, pasta with red sauce, Chinese food or powerful cheese, such as blue-veined roquefort.
At the wine tasting
Champagnes to be served tomorrow will be produced by Deutz, Drappier, Piper-Heidsieck and Pommery. With Deutz and Drappier, we will drink their wines against themselves same producer but two different vintages and two different styles.
The Piper-Heidsieck will be compared with its American version, the Piper Sonoma. The Pommery, a light, elegant champagne, will be our welcome wine.
The charge is $35. I might point out that last week I received a mailout for the annual champagne tasting sponsored by a Washington, D.C., retailer. Their charge was $99. Admittedly they had many more selections than we can offer, but how much wine can you drink?
We need to know how many bottles of this great wine to bring and to open, so if you have not yet made your reservation please call 482-0930 and do so tonight or sometime Thursday.
The tasting will be at Northwood Country Club at 6:30 p.m. You need not be a member at Northwood to attend. The public is invited.
In one evening you'll learn the difference between real champagne and its copies. It will be fun and probably eye-opening.

Galleries

PHOTOS: RHS Musical Theatre presents ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Franklin County

Northwest Regional Library announces audiobooks by mail program

Franklin County

Republican primary run-off election for county commission seats takes place April 16

News

Historic Roxy Theatre celebrates 75th Anniversary with upcoming entertainment

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Mark Dunbar

Franklin County

Franklin County makes seven drug trafficking arrests

Galleries

Why Knot car show cruises into downtown Russellville

News

Get free weather radio at VFDs

Franklin County

PCHS FBLA hosts Little Miss Dream Girl Pageant

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Johnnie Pounders

Features

Sam Warf: From Tennessee to the White House and beyond

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Mousey Brown

News

Russellville First Baptist Church receives historical marker

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Meeting a higher standard – Russellville High School JROTC

News

RCS BOE announces new superintendent  

News

Miss Dream Girl Pageant names winners

Franklin County

First Metro Bank hosts FAME Girls’ Ranch donation drive

News

PCHS holds annual Shelby Grissom Memorial Fashion Show

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: VFW Post 5184 – ‘No One Does More For Veterans’

Features

Supporting students’ futures

Features

Red Bay Garden Club discusses amaryllis planting

Franklin County

UA announces local students for fall 2023 President’s, Dean’s, graduation lists

News

School news

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Troy Oliver

x