Why Champagne Is So Expensive (but Worth It)

WIDOW_cliquotHave you ever looked in the Champagne section at the liqueur store (affectionately known as the LCBO in Ontario, colloquially pronounced lick-boe) and wondered why they cost so much more than sparkling wine?

And for those of us who have Champagne taste and sparkling wine budget, we know it’s basically the same thing but with one discerning difference. Champagne hails from the town of Champagne, France while sparkling wine can come from anywhere. Oh and of course, the price tag.

Tilar J. Mazzeo’s The Widow Clicquot chronicles the life of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the widow behind the legendary orange-label Champagne brand known as Veuve Clicquot. While it is unclear what is fact and what is assumed (there was very little actually written about the post-French Revolution business woman), The Widow Clicquot makes for a luxurious read.

The language is warm, rich and sumptuous — all the qualities you’d want from a book about something as superfluous and luxurious as Champagne. And for you connoisseurs, there are plenty of historic facts about how the bubbly has been made throughout history. There’s a reason why Champagne is so darn expensive and a lot of it has to do with its fickly nature in transportation.

What’s most remarkable is that Mazzeo tells the story of how women — specifically widows — once ruled the Champagne empire. I highly recommend for anyone who loves food and drink.




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4 thoughts on “Why Champagne Is So Expensive (but Worth It)

  1. Thanks for sharing! I recently read this book, too. I really enjoyed it, but sometimes it bothered me how much the author relied on hearsay, on assumptions, and on maybes to tell the story. I was surprised how little information is out there about the Clicquot family, too. The book is really worth reading, though, for its historical context and for its moments of concrete historical facts.

    • Thanks for reading Victoria (or is it Jeffrey?)! I loved the parts where she explains how hard Champagne is to make and keep bubbly — especially during those times. Really cool. But you’re right, it’s annoying how she writes “Barbe-Nicole must have felt xyz” or “She must have thought xyz”. How do you know?!?!

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