Champagne Bottles Literally Used to Explode

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It’s highly likely that a at least a few of the people reading this rang in the New Year last night with a glass of champagne, for those people here’s a fun fact for you, back in the early days of making champagne, bottle would explode at random and blind people.

If you’ve ever opened a bottle of champagne or have recently won a major sporting event, you’re probably well aware about how much pressure there is in a bottle of bubbly, especially if you’ve ever seen a cork fly out and ding someone in the face which is can be eye opening for everyone except the person it hits. According to scientists, an average bottle of champagne contains about 6 atmospheres of pressure which equates to about 5 kilograms of pressure on each and every square centimetre of the bottle’s interior. Because of this, champagne bottles need to be made of extra thick glass created in rooms playing Queen songs on repeat that is specially hardened to handle to the pressure.

Back in the early days of champagne making though, people didn’t realise this and bottles made of weaker glass would sometimes, without any warning whatsoever, explode in a shower of jagged glass and warm, insultingly flat champagne during the fermentation process. This was especially problematic for so-called Wine Turners, who were the poor souls charged with turning the bottles as they fermented ever so slightly to stop the yeast from sinking to the bottom, ruining the champagne and presumably some rich asshole’s day when he left it on a shelf to not open it.

However, due to the afformentioned pressure build up, this job was noted as being one of the single most dangerous of the era, since if one bottle exploded, it could cause a catastrophic and likely incredibly awesome chain reaction of explosions that could wipeout every bottle in stock in an event we’re confident was witnessed by at least 3 of Michael Bay’s ancestors.

This is real man's work.
Pictured: Man’s work.

This wasn’t just a freak occurrence that could happen if the guy turning the bottles dicked around and tried slapping the bottles or something, it was a fairly regular, totally unpredictable event that could strike at any moment and send shards of alcohol laced glass flying into your fucking eyes! In fact the event was so commonplace that champagne was known in some circles as “the Devils wine” and the people working in wine cellars housing champagne would often work wearing a heavy iron mask so that if a bottle did explode, it would only hit them in the chest, hands and groin instead of the face, which was less than ideal but better than dying.

The problem was so severe that the OG of champagne Dom Pérignon himself was asked to stop putting bubbles in his alcohol specifically because people were sick of his bottles exploding and maiming people, in response Dom Pérignon did absolutely nothing because it’s not like he was the one in danger. Eventually thicker glass pretty much eliminated this problem, but for a short window in history, having a bottle of champagne in your cellar was like having a live grenade held together with knock-off Duct tape and string nestled next to your bottles of wine. Then again, if you owned a wine cellar in those days, it’s highly unlikely you were at any risk of being injured by an exploding bottle and if you were earning wine cellar money, you could almost certainly hire someone who could duck slightly faster if your usual servant got injured.

To get back on topic for a moment, the next time you pop open a bottle of champagne raise a glass to Dom Pérignon for not giving a fraction of a shit about who his magic exploding wine maimed or killed while he was perfecting the recipe. Then raise a slightly fuller glass for all the people his concoction injured.