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The history of Dom Pérignon - the namesake for the world's most famous Champagne

I think it is safe to say that Dom Pérignon is a very recognizable brand name, even for those not well acquainted with champagne. For those few of you still unsure, champagne is what Dom Pérignon represents. Indeed it is arguably the most famous and well respected champagne in the world. It is produced by the French fine winery group of Moët et Chandon, a brand that is synonymous with glamour and luxury.

Something that was news to me when I looked into this subject was that Dom Pérignon was a real person! In fact, its been widely spread for years that he was the inventor of champagne, and was known for saying the words ‘come quickly I am tasting the stars,’ after his first taste of the sparkling wine. However, this has been widely disproved as there is no evidence to suggest he invented champagne, which is thought to have been first created intentionally by Benedictine monks in the French Abbey of Saint-Hilaire in 1531.

The real significance of Dom Pérignon is not to be overlooked however! He was in fact a great contributor towards the eventual production of sparkling wine, even if he wasn’t the initial producer. Born in 1638, in the Champagne region, he was a French Benedictine monk who came to the Abbey of Hautvillers in 1668 as cellarer, a position overseeing the production of wines. In his time re-fermation of the wine, which is the process that is used to achieve sparkling wine, was considered highly unfavorable. If a bottle was re fermented accidentally while being stored with the other wines the unprecedented pressure build up meant the bottle could explode and break a large amount of stock. Bubbly wine was called ‘vin du diable’ or ‘The Devils Wine’ for this very reason!

Dom Pérignon was esteemed for his work. He was noted for advancements in the creation of white wine, somehow making it out of red grapes! He also re-introduced the classic cork in the champagne region for their wine storage. Furthermore, he invented the famous ‘Coquard Press’ a device used to extract juice from the grapes, and cultivated the practice of blending wines from many vineyards to enrich the blend and flavor. He was absolutely making strides for the world of champagne, establishing its most characteristic features, and setting the wheels in motion for the bubbly drink we all know and love. It’s crazy to think that he probably had a very quiet life of wine production – and never would have thought that one day his name would be on the most famous bottle in the world!

Up until 1927 the trademark of Dom Pérignon's name belonged to Mercier Champagne, and was only bequeathed to Moët et Chandon when a Mercier daughter married a Moët son. It sounds a bit like sparkling wine’s version of Romeo and Juliet, but without the more unsavory elements. What a great, and very profitable wedding gift that turned out to be for Moët!

You might have seen a little video we put up the other day on Facebook and Instagram, and if you haven’t feel free to check it out – it’s just a couple clips of the train ride deep within the wine cellars of the Mercier wine house. As the initial owners of the Pérignon title, they have more information and history to share than we could ever cover here! La Belle Vie tour 2023 with France Travel Solutions offers our travellers the opportunity to tour the wine house and vineyards and to take the audio-guided cellar tour on the little underground train ride through history – with displays and art to help illustrate the fascinating stories of Champagne Mercier and Dom Pérignon.


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