How Champagne Became Associated With Hollywood

The history of cinema is drenched in Champagne, for example silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe supposedly bathed in it. This is why many people regard it as the ultimate luxury drink. Shedding light on this popular perception, we explain how Champagne came to be associated with Hollywood.

Origin story

Recently, London newspaper The Evening Standard traced the beginnings of Champagne’s association with Hollywood to 1928. This is the year that Alfred Hitchcock’s jazz age comedy Champagne was released. The film opens with a close up shot of a glass of Moët & Chandon, introducing viewers to the “millionaire’s lifestyle through the lens of his drink” and sparking a silver screen revolution.

Explaining how ubiquitous Champagne has become across film, since the release of Hitchcock’s comedy, Moët & Chandon’s Head of Heritage, Veronique Foureur, said: “Think of a famous actor or actress… He or she has probably drunk Moët & Chandon in one or more scenes.” From Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Leonardo di Caprio in The Great Gatsby, the brand really has become a silver screen stalwart over the years.

Glam factor

Foureur then outlined the reasons why Hollywood fell in love with Champagne, the first of which is the drink’s “glam factor.” It has long been associated with the royalty of Europe, for example Cristal was developed on the orders of a Russian Tsar. Hollywood is America’s royalty, so it makes sense that we would associate the traditional drink of the elite with the most famous people on earth.

But, she argued, Champagne may have started off as the drink of kings, but Hollywood has turned it into the ultimate symbol of social mobility. In The Seven Year Itch, for instance, Marilyn Monroe quaffs Champagne while eating crisps (which is actually palatable). Scenes like this made Champagne into an attainable luxury, as they show that it’s something average viewers could enjoy in their everyday lives.

Industry lubricant

Foureur also argued that Champagne is also the lubricant that keeps Hollywood turning, strengthening the association between the two. Moët & Chandon, she added, has been quaffed by attendees of the prestigious Cannes film festival since the 1950s. It has since become popular at movie showcases held in cities like London and Venice as well, ensuring that its popularity endures into the 21st Century.

Today, The Evening Standard argued, you are just as likely to see Champagne on the silver screen, as you were during the golden age of Hollywood. The drink flows heavily through Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Meanwhile the iconic spy James Bond continues to be associated with Dom Perignon, a brand whose products are featured on Ideal Wine Company’s Champagnes List.

Success symbol

It’s clear, therefore, that Champagne came to be associated with Hollywood, because it’s the ultimate symbol of success. A-listers started consuming this signature French drink because of its historic links to European royalty and in turn, this popularised the concept of Champagne as a luxury item among the general public. The next time you host a celebration, consider ordering a bottle of Champagne, so you can raise a toast and turn the event into a true occasion, worthy of Hollywood itself!

Opinions Are Divided On Quality Of 2016 Champagne

Representatives from two of the world’s top Champagne houses recently expressed differing opinions, concerning the quality of the 2016 vintage. Ideal Wine Company reports.

Background info

The grapes used in Champagne production are grown in the eponymous French region. Consequently, these products are influenced by the Champagne area’s terroir, which encompasses everything from soil to weather. So depending on weather conditions, some years’ vintages are better than others.

Regions across France experienced adverse – sometimes even bizarre, weather conditions this year, impacting its grape harvest. For examples, heavy frosts hit Burgundy in the spring, with projections showing that they damaged 46% of the region’s vineyards by over 30%. The Champagne region did not escape these adverse weather patterns, so have they damaged grape production and quality?

Unexpected quality

Assessing opinion, The Drinks Business found it to be divided. Commenting, AR Lenoble’s co-owner, Anne Malassagne, said: “It’s too early to decide if 2016 will be a vintage year but the quality of the grapes we picked was unexpected. We were very worried in the middle of August but we enjoyed three weeks of sunny days and cool nights that helped to keep the acidity levels high enough. We had perfect conditions in September apart from a few days of rain, which didn’t cause any damage.

Going on, she said: “We started picking our Pinot Noir and Meunier on 15th September then had to stop for a few days to wait for the Chardonnay to get ripe enough. Some of the Chardonnay was a bit too sweet so we blocked malolactic fermentation this year. The South of Champagne was hit hard by April frosts and some estates lost almost all of their crop to hail in villages like Urville. Our crop is down by about 20% on 2015 but we’re very happy with the quality of the grapes we picked.”

Nightmare harvest

However Regis Camus, the Chef De Cave of Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck, expressed a contrasting opinion. Explaining his position further, the Chef De Cave said: “The 2016 vintage was a nightmare. We had snow in April and very low temperatures in the vineyards. Nearly all of the vines in the Côte des Bar were killed by frost – production in Champagne is down by 15%. We had lots of rain in May, June and July, which led to an explosion of mildew like I’ve never seen before.”

“Thankfully the August heat stopped the march of the mildew. The grapes were tiny though and were drying out on the spot. Our harvest was down by 33%. Pinot Noir and Meunier ripened faster than Chardonnay, which is unusual. In fact, our Chardonnay ripened at the right time but our Pinot ripened early. It will be an interesting challenge trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together and make our Cuvée Brut from the 2016 vintage. We will have to rely more heavily on reserve wines and will use at least 20% in the blend,” potentially damaging this products renowned quality.

Try Champagne

The only way we’re going to be able to assess the quality of the 2016 vintage, therefore, is by actually sampling these Champagnes. If you want something to measure them against, you could buy top Champagnes from Ideal Wine Company. Visit the Champagnes list on our official website and you’ll find bottles from prestigious brands like Dom Perignon, Salon and Krug, providing you with true luxury!

Image by Simon Law.

Sparkling Wine Sales To Rise Over Christmas

It’s traditional to raise a glass of Champagne over Christmas and New Year. New evidence shows that consequently, British sparkling wine sales are set to rise dramatically over the Christmas season.

National love

‘Sparkling wine’ is the name given to any type of carbonated wine. However there are various types of sparkling wine, such as Champagne, Prosecco and Cava. The differences between sparkling wines concern their production methods, which are governed by legal guidelines. Champagnes, for example, see carbonisation take place within the bottle, while for prosecco, this happens in steel tanks.

We Brits have a fondness for sparkling wine, especially Champagne. The UK is the Champagne industry’s biggest export market. Our Champagne market expanded at three times the rate of the global sector as a whole last year. But Prosecco is also becoming increasingly popular, due to its sweeter taste and lower price, showing just how large the appetite for sparkling wine is in this country.

Christmas tipple

Many people love sparkling wines, because they have long-been viewed as the ultimate luxury tipples. Historically these wines, especially Champagne, were reserved for rich aristocrats while in the modern era, they have been associated with Hollywood, so when we drink Champagne, we feel like stars. A lot of people quaff Champagne at Christmas, when they want to treat themselves to a luxury item.

This means that we weren’t surprised when we learned that sparkling wine sales are expected to increase by around 500% on the Friday before Christmas, according to Sainsbury’s. In a new report, the supermarket chain dubbed this occasion ‘Fizz Friday,’ citing it as the biggest day of the year for sparkling wine sales. In contrast on a ‘normal’ Friday, roughly 500,000 bottles are sold on average.

Stiff competition

Sainsbury’s research also sheds light on Christmas demand for the different types of sparkling wine, according to The Drinks Business, an industry publication. Consumers are more likely to plan ahead to buy Champagne, the supermarket found. On average, consumers search for Champagne online up to three weeks in advance, a week earlier than they do for Proseccos and other sparkling wines.

But the most widely-searched alcoholic item on the Sainsbury’s website is Prosecco. Consumers are projected to spend £9m on the Italian product before Christmas. The supermarket also discovered that 57% of Prosecco sales happen at Christmas, while that number was 28% for other sparkling wines and 15% for Champagnes. Meanwhile, 35% of those polled said they were more likely to buy sparkling wine at Christmas, with 14% admitting that they are more likely to give Champagne as a gift.

Buy Champagne

It’s clear that wine enthusiasts across the country will raise a glass of sparkling wine this Christmas, to ring in this beloved national holiday. If you want to join them, why don’t you buy a premium product from Ideal Wine Company? Just visit our website and browse our Champagnes list, where you can find iconic brands like Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon, securing the perfect bottle for the holidays!

Flutes Vs Coupes: Which Glass Is Better For Champagne?

With the holiday season right around the corner, you might want to start stocking up on Champagne. To give your guests a fabulous time this year, you might want to ensure you have the right kind of glasses for your top Champagne. Ideal Wine Company debates flutes vs. coupes for Champagne.

Shape really matters

The way you serve wine has a serious impact on the drinking experience. When serving wine, for example, you should consider how much to pour. You should ideally have enough room in the glass to swirl the drink, unlocking its complex flavours, so a wine glass “should be no more than a third full.”

Even the shape of a glass matters. Research from the University of Tokyo indicates that wine glasses act as a filter, wiping away ethanol to maximise flavour, so you can enjoy the rich aromas and flavours of your favourite vintage. Different shapes work for different types of drinks. You would need a standard wine glass for reds, for example, but this would never work for something like Champagne.

Flutes vs. coupes

When you serve Champagne, you are dealing with a carbonated product. Experts believe that you need a type of glass that will encourage the flow of bubbles, as well as maximise flavours, to truly appreciate a Champagne. This is why in modern times, many people drink Champagne in a tall, narrow bowl glass called a flute, which you can hold by the stem, so you don’t warm it with your hands.

However, Glass of Bubbly writes, there are advantages to using a Champagne coupe instead. Coupes are shorter and wider-brimmed than flutes and can also be held at the stem, meaning that the drinker’s body heat doesn’t alter the nature of the Champagne. They were the first style of glass made specifically for Champagne and are now often associated with the golden era of Hollywood glamour.

Flutes are popular among those who like bubbly Champagne. Coupes are favoured among those who are interested in the full body and flavour of the product, instead of just its bubbles. This is because the wider brim of a coupe allows the Champagne greater exposure to air, meaning that it has a fuller taste. The glass that’s right for you, really depends on what you’re looking for from Champagne.

Try them out

There are pros and cons to flutes and coupes, so test out both before choosing how to serve your Champagne this holiday season. To ensure your guests have a fabulous time, make sure that you have wonderful Champagne to serve in either flutes or coupes. Browse Ideal Wine Company’s Champagnes list, which features noted brands like Dom Perignon, to find your perfect tipple this Christmas.

Image courtesy of Didriks.

Three Trends Transforming Wine Right Now  

Long-established traditions many have shaped wine-making, especially in old world regions like Bordeaux, but some things are now changing. Technology and shifting consumer attitudes are altering how we make, serve and drink wine, sparking new trends.

For instance, if you purchase the Dom Perignon 2000 from Ideal Wine Company, you’ll receive a quality drink, produced according to strict guidelines. Champagne houses have been legally required to conform to specific production rules since 1891.

In an interview with Business Insider, Master Sommelier Devon Broglie revealed several trends which are transforming wine right now.

Everyday bubbles

The terms ‘sparkling wine’ and ‘Champagne’ have practically been interchangeable for decades. Champagne has a history of being the drink of kings, meaning that many modern consumers see it as the ultimate luxury tipple. Because of this association, sales of Champagne sank in the years following the global economic crash of 2008, as consumers did away with luxury items to conserve cash.

But people are starting to buy Champagne again. Along with the emergence of lesser-known products like Cava, Prosecco and Moscato, this has allowed sparkling wine sales to rise in recent years, sparking new interest in bubbly as an everyday tipple.

Broglie said: “Sparkling wines from all over the world are popular, and people are spending less and less energy believing they’re only good for celebration and more and more time using them as a palate starter, an aperitif.”

Hello chilled reds

It is vital that you serve wine at the right temperature. With this strategy, you will ensure that the bottle is subjected to the right amount of cold or heat needed to bring the best flavour characteristics out of its wine. Traditional wisdom dictates that it’s best to serve red wine at room temperature, but recently, some experts argued that if already opened, red wines should be served chilled.

Broglie took this further, arguing that it’s a good idea to serve some red wines, even if they haven’t been opened, chilled during autumn.

“This can play for August, September, October, as you still have warm weather, but you’re moving into a cooler time.”

Broglie warned that you should only chill lighter, more acidic reds such as Beaujolais, while more alcoholic, fuller bodied varieties taste better at room temperature.

Getting more experimental 

The Master Sommelier also noted that the rapid advancement of internet and smartphones is changing how we as consumers engage with wine. With these devices, consumers can buy wine online through retailers like Ideal Wine Company easily. He added that “customers are thirsty for knowledge” and these devices are making it easier for them to find wine information at their convenience.

Because it’s easier to find information, consumers are no longer sticking to one “go-to-wine,” Broglie added. Increasingly, they are starting to get more experimental, trying different vintages to determine which wines they like and how to source other wines with similar qualities.

Some retailers are now creating new campaigns to attract more informed customers, citing US supermarket Whole Foods’ recent ‘Wine from Chile’ promotion as an example of this trend according to Broglie.

Rapidly changing wine landscape

With these trends, we see that wine is not static. The world in which we live is undergoing a period of change unlike any seen in human history and the global wine sector is rapidly shifting along with it. We would advise you to embrace new wine trends, rather than shy away from them. With a product as complex as wine, you never know, you might just stumble on a new way to enjoys its rich flavours!