There are two basic styles of sword: European and Asian. Most European swords fall into one of three catagories. The simplest and crudest shortsword/broadswords came first. Around the 12th Century a new type of sword emerged. The longsword1 was bigger, heavier, and, thanks to the phenomenon of leverage, was capable of cutting armour like cheap aluminium. During the Renaissance era a third type of sword came into fashion: the rapier. Smaller, lighter, and more fashionable than previous swords, its deceptive slimness belied a remarkable strength.
A saber can be used to open a champagne bottle with great ceremony. This technique is called sabrage. The saber is slid along the body of the bottle toward the neck. The force of the blade hitting the lip separates the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck.
This technique became popular in France when the army of Napoleon visited many of the aristocrat domains. It was just after the French revolution and the saber was the weapon of choice of Napoleon's fearsome cavalry (the Hussar). Napoleon's spectacular victories across all Europe gave them plenty of reason to celebrate. During these parties the cavalry would open the Champagne with their sabers. Napoleon probably encouraged this and is known to have said: "Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it."
There are many stories about this tradition. One of the more spirited tales is that of Madame Clicquot who had inherited her husbandís small Champagne house at the age of 27. She used to entertain Napoleon's officers in her vineyard and as they rode off in the early morning with their complementary bottle of Champagne, they would open it with their saber to impress the rich young widow.
The process consists of seven steps:
Wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. Churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims and champagne wine was served as part of coronation festivities.
Kings appreciated the still, light, and crisp wine, and offered it as an homage to other monarchs in Europe. In the 17th century, still wines of Champagne were the wines for celebration in European countries. The English were the biggest consumers of Champagne wines.
The first commercial sparkling wine was produced in the Limoux area of Languedoc about 1535. They did not invent it; nobody knows who first made it, although both the Russians and the English can make a reasonably good claim: it is recorded that in the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period they added sugar and molasses to imported wine and bottled it. The English claim is given some substance as they had developed sufficiently strong bottles to withstand the very high pressures created by fermentation.
Contrary to legend and popular belief, the French monk Dom Perignon did not invent champagne, although it is true he developed many advances in the production of this beverage, including holding the cork in place with a wire collar to withstand the fermentation pressure. It is believed champagne was created accidentally, yet others believe that the first champagne was made with rhubarb but was changed due to the high cost.
Somewhere in the end of the 17th century, the sparkling method was imported to the Champagne region from Russia, associated with specific procedures for production (including smooth pressing and dosage), and stronger bottles (invented in England) that could hold the added pressure. Around 1700, sparkling Champagne, as we know it today, was born.
The leading manufacturers devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine, associating it and themselves with nobility and royalty. Through advertising and packaging they persuaded the world to turn to champagne for festivities and rites of passage and to enjoy it as a luxury and form of conspicuous consumption. Their efforts coincided with an emerging middle class that was looking for ways to spend its money on symbols of upward mobility.
In 1866, the famous entertainer and star of his day, George Leybourne began a career of making celebrity endorsements for Champagne. The Champagne maker MoŽt commissioned him to write and perform songs extolling the virtues of Champagne, especially as a reflection of taste, affluence, and the good life. He also agreed to drink nothing but Champagne in public. Leybourne was seen as highly sophisticated and his image and efforts did much to establish Champagne as an important element in enhancing social status. It was a marketing triumph the results of which endure to this day.
In the 1800s Champagne was noticeably sweeter than modern Champagne is today with the Russians preferring Champagne as sweet as 300 grams per litre. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-JouŽt decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne, the modern Champagne, was created for the British in 1876
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