The Cup runneth over with bubbles

21 December 2022 Written by VRC

The Melbourne Cup Carnival always heralds a celebratory time of year: Spring arrives, the end of the year is near, and Flemington puts on the best party in Australia. A glass of champagne is often the perfect accompaniment, so we take a look at just how far back a glass of bubbly and Flemington go.

Champagne breakfasts, champagne and chicken sandwiches and champagne toasts in the winner’s circle are all synonymous with the Melbourne Cup and the Melbourne Cup Carnival. This festive beverage is the perfect way to celebrate a race win or enjoy a day out. Its association with Flemington is documented as beginning as far back as 1873, where it was reported in The Australasian that champagne was served from a ‘hamper shed’ at Flemington: “Another innovation which deserves honourable mention is the hamper shed of Messrs. Pickersgill and Co., where iced champagnes were dispensed at reasonable rates.”

By 1901 the popular beverage had made its way up to the luncheon rooms at Flemington, when the Adelaide Chronicle reported, “There was a tremendous crush at the luncheon rooms, and all the tables were cleared out early, but champagne flowed like a river long after the sandwiches had disappeared.” In 1939 the VRC decided to donate the money usually spent on champagne to the war efforts, with The Argus stating: “Guests at the VRC committee luncheon on Saturday at Flemington did not drink champagne, as usual, but, when they realised the reason, their tumblers of ale tasted all the better. The money usually spent on champagne is to be used by the VRC for patriotic purposes…”

The love affair with champagne continued; champagne breakfasts became a cultural tradition on Melbourne Cup Day, with racing fans in 1990 flocking to the track in their thousands to enjoy a champagne and chicken breakfast while watching morning trackwork.

In 2010, G.H.Mumm signed on as the VRC’s exclusive Champagne partner. It made a splash in the Birdcage with a lavish marquee and its sabrage tradition – the technique of opening a bottle of champagne with a blunt sword called a sabre.  The sponsorship agreement included the pouring rights, branded bars and retail market position as the official Champagne of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Flemington.

In 2018 the VRC and G.H.Mumm deepened their partnership with the announcement of the first global flagship Mumm Champagne Bar, a stylish new bar in the new $128 million Club Stand. The striking space which spans half the first floor of The Club Stand and features an outdoor terrace, will be a physical celebration of champagne and racing.

We're delighted to announce that recently a two-year partnership extension took place, making the iconic French champagne the official champagne of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Flemington until 2025.

Beverage Tips

  • Prepare your wines by putting them in the fridge one day before your brunch.
  • If the Champagne needs a last-minute cool down, fill a bucket with half ice and half water to get as much contact as possible between the cool temperature and the bottle.
  • A non-vintage (NV) Champagne should be served at around eight degrees, while a Vintage should be enjoyed at 10 degrees to appreciate its full complexity.
  • Pouring your champagne into elegant white wine glasses will reveal more aromas and enhance your tasting experience.
  • Only pour your glass one-third full, to give the wine some space to breathe.
  • Make sure that your Champagne matches the food you have prepared, and try to avoid ingredients that are sweet, bitter and acidic.