Facts about Champagne: Part 2 Product placement and public relations

Mme Pommery's establishment, outside Reims
Mme Pommery’s establishment, outside Reims

Cherubs crush grapes

This is the second of two episodes in which Dr Graham Harding traces the rise and rise of Champagne. In Part One, how the secondary fermentation that gives champagne its sparkle went from being a bad fault to a sought-after feature, as the drink itself became drier and drier to accompany food.

A Punch cartoon from 1862, as the elite was chasing champagne drier.

Generically, champagne signalled status, and the market grew, but the Champagne houses did not advertise to gain market share. Instead, they developed the black arts of product placement and public relations, none more so than Madame Pommery’s director of business in London, Adolphe Hubinet. Where he led, others followed.

Pommery placed in a Punch cartoon: Our Derby Day reserves.
Pommery placed in a Punch cartoon: Our Derby Day reserves.
Derby Day, by William Powell Frith.
Derby Day, by William Powell Frith (1856-8)

Finally, tip-toeing in champagne’s high-status footsteps came Babycham, prosecco and cava each with their own promise and allure. Graham Harding has views on them too.


  1. Ever wondered about the origins of the Champagne socialist? Jeremy Parzen tracked it down.
  2. Babycham rebooted, kinda sorta, plus the BBC takes a deeper dive into How Babycham changed British drinking habits.
  3. Spraying bubbly after a race? Blame Dan Gurney after his win in the 1967 Le Mans 24-hour.
  4. William Powell Frith’s The Derby Day (1856–8) courtesy of The Tate N00615 (Licenced CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported), and taken from the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer, which has Jeroboams of additional information.

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