Champagne Charlie by Don and Petie Kladstrup

Champagne Charlie

Champagne Charlie | The Frenchman Who Taught Americans to Love Champagne by Don and Petie Kladstrup recounts the story of Charles Heidsieck, who faced a tumultuous road in his quest to introduce champagne to the United States.

A New York Times Best Wine Book of 2021

Champagne Charlie tells the story of a dashing young Frenchman, Charles Heidsieck, who introduced hard-drinking Americans to champagne in the mid-nineteenth century and became famously known as Champagne Charlie. Ignoring critics who warned that America was a dangerous place to do business, Heidsieck plunged right in, considering it “the land of opportunity” and succeeding there beyond his wildest dreams. Those dreams, however, became a nightmare when the Civil War erupted and he was imprisoned and nearly executed after being charged with spying for the Confederacy.

Only after the Lincoln administration intervened was Heidsieck’s life saved, but his champagne business had gone bankrupt and was virtually dead. Then, miraculously, Heidsieck became owner of nearly half the city of Denver, the fastest-growing city in the West. By selling the land, Heidsieck was eventually able to resurrect his business to its former glory.

For all its current-day glamour, effervescence, and association with the high life, champagne had a lackluster start. It was pale red in color, insipid in taste, and completely flat. In fact, champagne-makers, including the legendary Dom Pérignon, fought strenuously to eliminate bubbles. Champagne’s success can be traced back to King Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour, Napoleon Bonaparte, countless wars and prohibitions, and, most important to the United States, Charles Heidsieck.

Champagne Charlie tells the history of champagne and the thrilling tale of how the go-to celebratory drink of our time made its way to the United States, thanks to the controversial figure of Heidsieck.

Don and Petie Kladstrup are former journalists and now live in Paris. Don was a television news correspondent for CBS and ABC News from 1978 through 1994 and is the winner of three Emmys, two Dupont-Columbia Awards (Gold Baton), the Robert F. Kennedy award for humanitarian journalism, several Overseas Press Club awards, and a National Association of Black Journalists award. Petie was a reporter for several midwestern newspapers, assistant to the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, and is the winner of an Overseas Press Club award. They are the coauthors of Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure and Champagne: How the World’s Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed over War and Hard Times.

  • ISBN: 9781640123946
  • 296 pages
  • November 1, 2021

Published by:  Potomac Books