Historically, alcohol was valued for its ability to stimulate and its high sugar content. Champagne, specifically, was popular for its perceived rejuvenating bubbles. Back in Victorian times, it was thought that alcohol was a performance enhancer. Before strychnine was discovered as a pesticide, it was thought that small amounts could provide a boost of energy for exhausted athletes. Consider the challenge of trying to reach the finish line when you can’t even walk straight due to being drunk.
Athletes frequently resorted to alcohol and drugs like strychnine, heroin, or cocaine to hide pain, increase energy levels, or enhance aggression. Certain coaches even had their own secret blends. The practice of using heroin and cocaine as performance-enhancing substances finally ceased in the 1920s when they were restricted to prescription-only use. Furthermore, athletes persisted in consuming alcohol during competitions until the 70s and 80s.
Fun Fact: According to legend, the origins of Champagne can be traced back to Dom Perignon, a Benedictine Monk hailing from the abbey of Hautvilliers in Champagne, France. It is believed that Perignon discovered the process of bottling wine before fermentation was complete, which he later perfected and called the ‘méthode champenoise’.