Champagne HistoryChampagne is a sparkling wine, full of effervescence, named for the northeast region of France around the cities of Reims and Epernay. True champagne only comes from this specific area.
In the 17th century, Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon, cellermaster at the Abbey of Hautvillers until 1715, was credited for his work in the blending of champagnes and prevention of bottle explosion from carbonation by using thicker bottles and better corks. This sparkling wine became very popular at the French court, and soon became the drink of choice for special occasions worldwide.
Sparkling wines from other regions are known as spumante in Italy, Sekt in Germany and vin mousseux in other French regions.
French champagne is normally a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, or pinot blanc grapes. The traditional méthode champenoise requires a second fermentation of the wine in the bottle, along with some one hundred manual operations. It is this method that makes champagne so expensive, because it is labor-intensive.
Some sparkling wines are now made in the United States and labeled as Champagne, so be sure and check the vineyard to see if you are getting true French champagne. US laws do not preclude vineyards labeling domestic sparkling wines as Champagne, but true connoisseurs will not touch any champagne not coming from the northeast region of France.
Chill champagne to between 39 and 50 degrees F., two hours before serving.
More About Champagne• Champagne History
• Champagne Varieties
• How to Open Champagne
• Champagne Cooking Tips
• Champagne Recipes
Champagne Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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