The Party Don’t Start Until Russia Walks In

 

Russian Champagne (1914) / Wikimedia Commons

When you think of Russia and alcohol I would assume that most of you would automatically think vodka. What if I told you that you would be incorrect. “After the terrible famine that gripped Ukraine and southern Russia in the wake of collectivization, and only a few years before the terror and war scare sent society into a tailspin, citizens experienced a period of relative comfort and well-being” (1). This relative comfort and well-being turned the people of Russia to a drink they previously weren’t very much accustomed to. That being champagne. A country synonymous with vodka started there roots with champagne! Previously champagne was a drink for aristocrats and NEPmen. Collectivization and the Five Year Plan was a large factor in bringing not only champagne but other cherished foods to the market that during previously times of hardship weren’t as readily available!

Up until the mid-thirties there was no mass production of champagne due to technological factors until Anton Mikhailovich Frolov-Bagreev was able to change the fermentation process. This change led to a great increase in production from an “initial level of 300,000 bottles per year, production rose to 12,000,000 by 1942, the depths of the war” (1). Champagne making was established at the Crimean coast by Prince Lev Golitsyn before his death in 1915. The initial spark of champagne in Russia can be attributed to him. Due the ability to mass produce champagne it wouldn’t be uncommon to see taps of champagne in grocery stores. Individuals such as “Anastas Mikoian, People’s Commissar of the Food Industry, helped Frolov attain his dream of popularizing the drink after the war” (1). This was a great time for Russia, after all that has previously gone on there is no doubt why they wanted to indulge in a lot of champagne!

What I find the most interesting about all of this is how easily popular figures such as Anasras Mikoian could be to the common folk during the time. It made me think of celebrities now a days and how much influence they have over what people purchase. People such as The Kardashians are a great modern day example. You see them using certain make up or wearing certain brands and people go out and purchase them. It’s the same exact thing with Mikoian and Champagne. It just put back into perspective how much power influential figures have over society.

  1. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1934-2/soviet-champagne/

 

 

9 thoughts on “The Party Don’t Start Until Russia Walks In”

  1. Justin, this was a really unique and interesting post! I agree that you never associate something with such a luxurious connotation with the Soviet Union, but the Soviet champagne surely contradicts that! I also really liked your analogy at the end; popular culture also played a huge role in the Soviet Union and it’s really interesting to see the different ways this manifests.

  2. I did the Soviet Champagne too! I think it is particularly interesting how the production of it started just before the revolution and was one of the few things that Soviet Russia made a push to bring into the post-revolution life. Also how much they were producing of the champagne right off the bat and how it was stocked in every store. The spread of this product says a lot about what was and was not kept in the new Soviet Russia.

  3. Great post, I learned a lot! I had no idea that many got to experience such a luxury item like champagne in the Soviet era. Even more, I found it interesting that champagne had been reserved for NEPmen, I imagine that if you have the connections, you would want to keep it for yourself. I wonder if champagne is still as popular in Russia today?

  4. Awesome comparison of how public figures and celebrities have a great deal of influence on people in society. We often don’t think of how prevalent this is, and how far back it dates. It’s interesting to see that even a type of alcohol can be promoted just by one person’s choice to drink it. Champagne helped people feel richer and more sophisticated than they had in the past, promoting them to ignore whatever failures the government might have.

  5. Great post! You should check out the blog Tsarbucks, she also did a blog about champagne. I thought it was cool that you pointed out Mikoian’s influence with the champagne and how it can relate to the common folk. Someone above wondered if champagne was still popular in Russia today and I am wondering the same thing. Any insight??

  6. I found the Russian champagne article on the Soviet History page interesting as well. Champagne is not something I would ever associate with Russia, so it was interesting to learn about its development there. I loved the detail you included about how some grocery stores would have champagne on tap, now that’s a crazy image. I wonder if Russian citizens used champagne as a celebratory drink/a higher class drink, or if they still drank it more regularly since they could get it so easily.

  7. I really liked this post and how you compared the popular cultures of the wealthy and their influence from then to today. I also enjoyed the history of the rise of champagne in the Soviet Union. You really don’t often associate anything involving prosperity to Russia during that time.

  8. When it comes to Russia, I can only ever see them drinking vodka – I guess I should really get this stereotype out of my head. Regardless, I never knew that they had taken an interest in champagne. It was interesting to hear about the grocery stores and their taps. I really enjoyed this post, so keep up the good work!

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