Book Report: The Widow Clicquot

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

A first for The Winedown: A book report! I don’t plan to do these too often, but as I read a wine book from time to time, I will try to share my thoughts. This time around, I read The Widow Clicquot, by Tilar Mazzeo

I slowly read this book over far too long of a time period. No, not because I’m a slow reader! Unfortunately, I just hadn’t been on my reading game lately. To get to the point though, this book is far more of a history book than a wine book. For me, that’s great. One of my favorite genres can be history (particularly modern military history…an contradiction in terms, it seems like). But if you’re not into non-fiction, or historical accounts, this will not be for you.

The book follows the life of Barbe-Nicole, who becomes widowed and is forced to run her family’s champagne company, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. You might recognize the name; the company is still around today, owned by LVMH. You’ll recognize the bright orange label immediately. Mazzeo does a nice job of explaining the tribulations Barbe-Nicole encounters, as well as explaining the techniques of the champagne process so that a lay person could understand.

If you’re looking for light summer reading, this may not be the page-turner for sitting poolside. But if you like history and want to hear an account of an incredible businesswoman (in very tough economic and political times, no less) this could be of interest to you. And, like me, you’ll be tempted to drop the $40 for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot when you’re finished.

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