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Champagne Widows Stamp Sparkling Legacy on Wine

Cork of a bottle of champagne decorated with the portrait of Madame Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

Most famous Champagnes — Veuve (“Widow”) Clicquot — explicitly evokes the rather grim tradition. But other legendary houses — Bollinger, Laurent-Perrier and Pommery — also got their starts with widows. Many lesser-known names that still carry the widow tag, such as Veuve Fourny and Veuve Doussot.

From its bottle shape to its taste, color, labeling and even marketing, Champagne owes its uniqueness to widows from the early 19th century who used the sometimes mysterious deaths of their husbands to enter the male-dominated business world.

The widows became so successful that dozens of Champagnes added “Veuve” to their names even though no widow ran the house — just for its mystique and marketing value. “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.”

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