11 Things You Didn't Know About Champagne


Everyone loves bubbly (well, except for the day after a wedding reception maybe), and the first thing people learn is that in order to be called Champagne, it's got to actually come from the Champagne region (sorry, André) -- so now that you’ve got that down, let’s move on to 11 other things you probably didn’t know about the stuff.

Pinot Noir Grapes
Wikimedia/Benovia Winery

1. It’s basically just a bottle of pinot noir

Well OK, not really, but the three grapes most commonly used in Champagne are pinot noir, meunier, and chardonnay. That’s right, pinot noir grapes, and while your bubbles don’t look like your classic bottle of pinot noir, you can thank your lucky stars the Champagne producer knows how to blend these grapes well.

Champagne bubbles
Flickr/Bill Masson

2. Champagne was a total accident

The bubbles in the first bottle of Champagne weren’t intentional at all; they were thanks to the winemaker’s mistake that led to the wine fermenting in the bottle, and then his second mistake of drinking something that was so spoiled it was literally fizzing.


3. The first Champagne bottles were deadly

Because bubbles would often make the bottles literally explode, sending glass shrapnel across the room, Champagne was deemed "vin du diable" (wine of the devil). Mastering the fermentation process so that bottles didn’t spontaneously burst was an important part of mastering the production of Champagne as we know it today.

Ship christening
Wikimedia/Navy NewsStand Home

4. You can’t have an important international event without a bottle of Champagne

While no one is going to require you to serve Champagne at the signing of an international document, doesn’t it seem just a little more legitimate if someone does? Champagne has been present at many an international treaty signing, most recently the Maastricht Treaty, as well as the christening of famous ships, and even the opening of the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain.

Champagne vineyard

5. Champagne wasn’t legitimate until 1927

While Champagne vineyards date back to the 1st century AD, 1927 was the year that the Comité Champagne identified the legal production area of Champagne wines, an area that comprises 35,280 hectares.

Champagne bubbles
Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

6. Five bottles of Champagne will get you as many bubbles as stars in the Milky Way

According to a scientific calculation, there are around 49 billion bubbles in a bottle of Champagne, a little under 1/5 the number of stars in the Milky Way. Which means your celestial drinking experience is only about five bottles away.

Champagne flute
Wikimedia/Jon Sullivan

7. It might be a World Heritage drink?

The French government thought the drink and the region that it comes from were so important that it should be included on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. An application was submitted in January 2014 and they were granted World Heritage status in July 2015.

French McDonalds
Flickr/Eric Chan

8. In France, there are more than three times the number of Champagne growers than McDonald’s

The French might love their fast food and to-go burgers, but not more than their Champagne. With 4,629 Champagne growers, there are far more people growing grapes for bubbly than the almost 1,300 McDonald’s in France.

Wall of Champagne
Flickr/Benoit Tarlant

9. There's enough for everyone on the planet

There are currently 1 billion bottles of the good stuff in storage, with an average of about seven glasses per bottle (including Magnums, etc.), which means there's enough for everyone on the planet to have one to themselves.

Wikimedia/Niels Noordhoek

10. A Champagne cork flies at about 25mph

Thankfully some enterprising, and presumably not-quite-sober scientists decided to calculate the velocity of a Champagne cork as it pops out of the bottle, which "when vigorously shaken," is 24.85mph.

Armand de Brignac Champagne
Armand de Brignac

11. If you’re really celebrating, get a Melchizedek

The largest bottle of Champagne is actually nowhere near a magnum. The Melchizedek, which is named for a king & priest in the Book of Genesis, is the equivalent of 40 standard bottles of bubbly. That is one mighty headache, both for your head and your wallet. Too much for you? Get the size down, the Primat, which has a mere 36 average bottles' worth in it.

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Anna Brones is a freelance writer for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter: @annabrones