Champagne has been associated with luxury, special occasions, and rites of passage since the days of French royalty when kings were anointed with bubbly. But not just any bottle of the sparkly stuff gets to be called a champagne.
Where did this festive libation get its name? And what makes a champagne a champagne?
What champagne is made from
Champagne is a sparkling wine made from three types of grapes: Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, and it is created exclusively in the Champagne region of France. Although sparkling wines are produced throughout the world, most countries restrict the use of the word Champagne to wines that are made in the Champagne region.
Wine has been made in this region since before medieval times. Today, there are more than a hundred Champagne houses, in addition to almost 20,000 smaller vignerons, or vine-growing producers.
Another name for champagne
Supposedly, the first champagne in France was a happy accident. The pressure that was created in the bottle from the fermentation caused the bottle to explode. This led to the nickname le vin du diable, or “the devil’s wine.”
If you’re looking to truly impress guests this New Year’s Eve, get out your sword. At ceremonial occasions, a technique called sabrage is used to open a Champagne bottle. It involves sliding a saber along the neck of the bottle and breaking the glass. Cheers.