If you love champagne like I do, then you need to know our Spotlight Spinster. We have Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, better known as Veuve (Madame) Clicquot, or the “Grand Dame of Champagne” to thank for the deliciousness that we’ve come to associate with celebrations of all kinds.
I accompanied my friend Donita Dooley from Slight Southern Accent on her bucket list trip to France where we visited the historical champagne region of Reims to tour the Veuve Clicquot vineyard. We learned all about how Madame Clicquot revolutionized the champagne industry.
She married at 21 and was widowed at the age of 27 when her husband died leaving her with a three year old daughter to raise. Though Madame Clicquot had come from wealthy prominent family, but had to convince her father-in-law to let her run their existing champagne business. After a few turbulent years she and her business partners invented a new process called riddling to reduce the sediment in champagne. And, it’s still used today.
But Madame Clicquot didn’t stop there. After she fought several counterfeiters in court over bootlegging her then un- marked champagne bottles, she established the iconic and recognizable branding we’ve come to recognize as the Veuve Clicquot yellow orange color (now trademarked) and seal with her likeness on it. Even getting to the champagne distributed in Russia and beyond was not out of her reach.
Madame Clicquot never married again for if she had, her husband would have gained control of her business as were the laws back then. This was the 19th century, afterall. So the next time you raise your champagne glass to make a toast – give a silent “cheers” to Madame Clicquot, her business acumen and good taste!