The History Of Champagne, The Drink Named After A Region In France
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Many celebrations and other special occasions are marked by clinking glasses of bubbly together. The fizzy alcoholic beverage has been the drink of choice for people looking to express their joy for years. Champagne was created in the Champagne region of France in the 17th century and has been synonymous with elegance and luxury ever since.

Wine has been made for over 7,000 years, and fizzy wine for just as long. The bubbles are a natural result of sealing the wine before its fermentation is complete. This method was first perfected by a monk and cellar master at the Benedictine Abbey of Hautvillers, one Dom Pérignon (1638-1715). It was at this Abbey near Rheims in France that a revolution took place and sparkling wine was popularised with the birth of champagne. 

The Romans introduced the vine to northern Gaul in the 1st century CE. They were experts at viticulture and very aware of the benefits of maximising climatic and soil conditions. It was common to prune, graft, and train vines, all skills that were needed to grow quality grapes in the cool climate of the Champagne region in northeast France. The wines of the region, which were still not fully sparkling, became popular only in the 9th century. 

In the 13th century, wine made in Champagne gained a global reputation thanks to the annual trade fairs held in the region. The counts of Champagne knew that by endorsing these fairs, which sometimes lasted six weeks, and by providing trade incentives, they could encourage European merchants from England, Spain and Italy to import champagne to new markets. By the next century, most of the area around Rheims had been planted with vines and winemaking was a large enterprise.

Wine from Champagne was popular, but it was still murky like other drinks. By the mid-17th century, winemakers began to experiment with wine made only from white grapes, using various techniques that made wine clearer. Efforts to deliberately produce sparkling wines were also being made, as opposed to its accidental production which was the result of winemakers trying to avoid fizzy red wine but bottling before fermentation was complete. These two methods were later combined by the monks of Hautvillers.

Dom Pérignon lived from 1638 to 1715 and, after his admission into the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Vanne in 1658, acquired both the honorary title of Dom and the prestigious post of cellar master at the abbey. His career spanned 47 years, and the wine he produced came to be known as 'vins de Pérignon' instead of a product of the Hautvillers Abbey. 

Pérignon mastered the art of blending wines from different vineyards to produce a distinguished blend, an essential part of the complex process of producing champagne. Although he was not the inventor of true sparkling wine, he sped up the process of making champagne as we know it today.

The extra time and effort that goes into its production makes champagne an expensive wine. By the 19th century, the champagne production methods that were in place began to be strictly adhered to. These distinguish champagne from imitations so much so that today, only wine produced in the Champagne region of northeast France may be called ‘champagne’.