Sparkling: The Story of Champagne on BritBox tells the many fascinating stories behind the world's most elite alcoholic drink. From superstar lover Casanova, who used it to seduce women, to perfume guru Coco Chanel who said she only drank it when she was in love and when she wasn’t, Champagne has always had its glamorous fans.
Now, a BritBox documentary follows the famous drink’s origins all the way from its inventor — Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon — who declared "I can taste the stars" the first time he tried his alcoholic concoction in 1728.
The show examines the controversial theory that the English actually "discovered champagne" decades before Dom Perignon made his tasting the stars comment. It also has exclusive access to the Queen's vineyard at Windsor Great Park and looks at the impact of climate change — as the Champagne region is gradually becoming too hot, leading to the likes of Pommery and Taittinger planting vineyards in the south of England. By exploring the origins of the tipple, the film provides a surprising take on Anglo-French relations.
The BritBox show meets Champagne powerhouses such as Bollinger, Veuve Clicquot, and Taittinger and hears how the drink’s links to the rich and famous boosted its popularity. Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly drank more than 40,000 bottles in his lifetime and even named a racehorse Pol Roger after his favourite tipple. "My grandfather drank champagne pretty much every day, certainly for lunch or dinner," explains his grandson Nicholas Soames. "He said it stirs the spirit!"
Sparkling: The Story of Champagne release date
Sparkling: The Story of Champagne is a one-off documentary that arrives on streaming service BritBox in the UK from Thursday 29 July.
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All the glamour behind Champagne!
Champagne has always had a certain prestige, not least because glamorous stars liked to sip it. "Marilyn Monroe fell in love with Piper-Heidsieck," says Benoit Collard, manager of the company. "Unfortunately everyone remembers the first part of her quote about wearing Chanel No5 to bed but forgets the last bit where she said ‘and I wake up with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck because it warms my body up’."
The documentary also looks at the blossoming English sparkling wine industry. "We’re on a journey," says Richard Balfour, from the Hush Heath Estate. "We’re not trying to mimic Champagne. Far from it. We’re making English sparkling wine and it has its own style."
I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s.
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