Champagne headache (Why you don’t get them from Champagne)

When I ask people about Champagne they often, and I mean often, reply, “I don’t like it because it gives me a headache”.  “Oh really”, I reply, “and what Champagne were you drinking when you got this headache”?  Invariably the reply is “I don’t know I was at some wedding”. Well then most likely, you were not drinking Champagne. Just because it had bubbles in it didn’t make it Champagne. Quite the opposite, you were probably drinking what I would call a “headache in a bottle”. People do not often spring for Champagne at weddings, for obvious reasons. The reasons are so obvious I’ll state them for you. First would be the cost factor, and second that most people cannot tell the difference. (I give an example in an earlier posting of some very well to do people doing that exact thing here in Charlotte).

Bubbles translate out to celebration and fun. This actually dates back to the coronation of Hugh Capet being crowned King of France in 987 at the cathedral of Reims, located in the heart of the Champagne region. He started a tradition that brought successive monarchs to the region—with the local wine being on prominent display at the coronation banquets. The early wine of the Champagne region was a pale, pinkish wine made from Pinot noir (the bubbles came later).

When the bubbles did come, it was by accident and the wine makers tried to get rid of them. Then someone actually tried to taste it and discovered that they might be on to something. What’s funny is that Dom Perignon is credited with the discovery and with the following quote, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” The fact is that he tried most of his life to get rid of them (the bubbles).

Dom (I called him that) spent much of his life setting the groundwork for making Champagne a wine that will not give you a headache. He was a perfectionist and implemented such rules of winemaking including; aggressive pruning, dictating that vines should grow no higher than 3 feet and produce small yields. Harvesting was to be done early in the morning, when it was very cool, and that every care should be taken to keep the grapes intact. Grapes that were bruised or broken were rejected. He desired the grapes to be pressed as quickly and efficiently as possible to minimize the possibility of the grape skins leaching into the juice. He demanded a distinction be made between the different levels of pressings. The first press was to be done completely by the weight of the grapes on top of each other producing the highest quality wine. (This first pressing is used in the making of all quality Champagnes). His emphasis on limiting skin contact helped to produce truly white wine from red wine grapes.

The aforementioned obsession to make the best wine possible formed the basis for making Champagne. Think about it, a gentle pressing of the grapes is the juice used to make the still wine. This is the equivalent of extra virgin olive oil. Limiting the impurities that make the base wine along with all of the care and handling of the grapes form the basis for the rules and regulations on how Champagne is made. No wonder it costs more. In subsequent blogs I will write about the grapes themselves.

Headache in a bottle wine starts with cheap wine (the cheapest) sugar and bubbles that are either injected like soda or made in a vat. So remember if it did not come from a 90,000-acre region in France called Champagne you may be drinking an inferior product, in my opinion designed to “give you a headache”. Please visit again and learn more about the best wine in the world.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Champagne headache (Why you don’t get them from Champagne)

  1. Russ Langley

    Good to learn something everyday.

  2. Tippler

    Thanks for the history lesson! Very interesting and good to know.

  3. PJ

    I’ve been drinking Moet & Chandonn and am now sporting a headache. You’re argument does not hold water.

    • Your comment about not holding water is appropriate. You didn’t get the hangover from the Champagne. You became dehydrated. I recommend you read Eat to Win. Once I did I discovered the importance of drinking water. The book will help you identify all of the things that will sap the water from your body. Sorry about your hangover. Good luck and remember stay hydrated.

  4. there are several great california sparklers but any bottle that has california champagne on the label is cheap crap made the charmat method.

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