"I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it," she once said, "unless I'm thirsty". - Widow Bollinger.
"Champagne is the story of widows," said Francois Godard, scion of Veuve Godard et Fils Champagne house. "Women who lost their husbands, and then outshone the men."
The widows of champagne had financial opportunities when their husbands passed away. This seem almost unimaginable considering that in the early 19th century, if you were not a married women you were a dependant on your father. Women were not allowed to have a bank account or be the CEO of a company so they were either owned by their fathers or husbands.
"Only a widow can take this position as head of a company."
And this is where the bubbly drink that we all love and adore today came to life and we have to thank Verve Cliquot and a few others for this. She rocked the foundations of the conservative male dominated Champagne industry in France when at the age of 27 decided to take over the Champagne house left to her in 1805 by Francois Cliquot .
In my view she laid new foundations in this particular industry and so many others businesses, society and most of all she created opportunities for women in particular, that to this day is unshakable and will last for years to come. Opportunistic and tough as nails, the young widow transformed the small house into a global empire.
"Madame Clicquot exploited the chaos created by Napoleonic wars to tap the European
market, before taking in tipple-loving Russia and then the United States. Madame Clicquot was the first businesswoman in France, and maybe the whole of Europe," says Moreau, who says that the house created the annual Business Woman Award in 1972 to evoke her legacy and champion the success of female
entrepreneurs around the world.
Working until she dropped dead at 89, Veuve Clicquot left behind a formidable legacy:
She invented rosé Champagne, the world's first Champagne label and - according to Moreau - was behind the distinctive modern Champagne bottle: slender and elegant in contrast to its clunky, heavy-set predecessor.
Added to this was the invention of Veuve Clicquot's revolutionary technique of "rilling". It was a method of turning the bottle to get rid of nasty, cloudy sediment that stagnated in the drink, a process that made the beverage clear and pleasant. It's still used today."
The famous yellow label engraved with the word Veuve is French for widow. More widows followed suit and I trust that you already know them as Pommery, Bollinger etc. What's important to note here is that their names were written on a simple
piece of paper.
By the time Veuve Pommery came along, widows had become a commercial asset. Men who ran Champagne houses would go to great lengths to find a widow in the family after whom they could name their house, in hopes of boosting sales.
What financial opportunity? When tragedy struck, Veuve Cliquot had one opportunity and she grabbed it with both hands because she new that it would give her independence and status in society but more important it gave her financial freedom.
If there is one lesson that you should take from the widows of champagne then it should be this: "If your name is not written on a piece of paper then you will be labelled a dependant." In the early 19th century women had no rights but there was honour to care for widows and orphans. With all the legal rights and financial freedom that exist today, I find that the world is far more brutal and there is little honour or responsibility to care for women and children especially when you are divorced.
Financial independence is such an easy goal to achieve and all that it takes is smart financial planning and being able to make a smart informed decision. So when disaster strikes would you be able to survive financially as Veuve Cliquot did?