Food - Drink
How Stalin's Cheap Champagne Took Over The Soviet Union
By CHRIS SANDS
Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin developed a thriving sparkling white wine industry as propaganda to show that the Soviet proletariat had easy access to luxury items. Somewhat ironically, Stalin’s goal of turning out a million bottles per year in 1936 came on the heels of a nationwide famine.
Instead of using the traditional French method for making Champagne, Soviet winemaker Anton Frolov-Bagreyev utilized his own fermentation method to churn out sweet Sovetskoye Shampanskoye in massive quantities. Even as Soviet quotas often outpaced production, this method still allowed Stalin to achieve his dream of sparkling wine accessible to the proletariat.
Shampanskoye became synonymous with celebrations in the Soviet Union, but it never came close to Champagne’s quality. Russian winemakers continued to produce the sparkling wine even after the Soviet era but changed the name in 2011 out of respect to the Champagne region of France.