Drink Like an Emperor
When it came to wine, Napoleon coveted the bubbly and the sweet.
Wine-loving Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “In victory you deserve Champagne; in defeat you need it.” Vinophiles interested in reliving Bonaparte’s famous (and infamous) past can still drink like he did. Historians agree he had three favorite wines, all of which are still being made: Moët & Chandon Champagne, South Africa’s Vin de Constance and the wines of Chambertin, from the Burgundy region of France. Napoleon’s first recorded shipment of Moët & Chandon was in 1801, and he made many visits to the Champagne house in Épernay over the years. A plaque at the entrance of the cellars reads: “…The Great Emperor of the French toured these cellars guided by Mr. Jean Remy Moët, 26 July, 1807.” Bonaparte also loved Chambertin wines, claiming that “nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.”
During his final exile on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon had nearly 300 gallons of Vin de Constance, the sweet, nutty dessert wine of South Africa’s Constantia region, shipped to him yearly. On his deathbed, Napoleon refused all other food and drink offered him, requesting only a single glass of Vin de Constance. Adam Mason, head winemaker at Klein Constantia, recreates the sweet nectar with an awareness of the historical tradition of this great wine.