What is the origin of Champagne?

Associated with a specific region in France, champagne is a wine not quite like any other. While the world's elite has appreciated it since the Middle Ages, the technique of making sparkling champagne was not mastered until the end of the 17th century.
But first, let’s take a look back. Between the 1st and 4th centuries, the Champagne vineyards began to form. Like in other wine-producing regions, vinification was mainly the job of abbeys and monasteries. Wine is indeed a central element of the Christian liturgy.
The mixing was practiced by monks, who pressed together grapes of different varieties delivered by the winegrowers as their form of tithe, a regular giving to the church.
Some cellarer monks, such as the famous Dom Pierre Pérignon from the abbey of Hautvillers, transformed the process of mixing into a precise craft. He carefully and intentionally selected grapes from different regions to obtain better-balanced wines.
Some wines, such as the wine of Aÿ or Sillery, already had an excellent reputation. These wines were noted and praised for their effervescence, despite a lack of understanding in how the bubbles were produced.
Only at the end of the 17th century did this collection of bubbly wines begin to be dubbed as the “wines of Champagne,” later shortened to “champagne.”
From it’s conception, champagne was a luxury for the elites, definitely not for more common folk. Since the baptism of King Clovis the First in the 5th century, the coronation of French kings has taken place in Reims, in Champagne, where the wine of the region could be served with prominence.
Centuries after Clovis, champagne was the favorite wine of Louis XIV, and then Louis XV and the court of Versailles. This royal favor contributed to the drink’s fame, leading it to quickly becoming the wine for celebrations and important events across Europe. In 1717, Tsar Peter the Great, visiting Fontainebleau, liked it so much that he asked for four extra bottles to be brought to his suite after dinner. Philip V of Spain said he drank only this wine. Frederick II of Prussia was passionate about its production, and Casanova used it to seduce his Venetian conquests. Thanks to figures like these, champagne became the most famous wine among the upper class.
For a long time, the wine of Champagne was reserved for a thin fringe of society. The delicate conditions of production and the relative smallness of the vineyards explain the exclusivity of its consumption.
Little by little, however, it is becoming less elitist and more common a drink, allowing people to celebrate a variety of events alongside the bubbles. If christenings, weddings, and graduations can be celebrated with champagne, then the drink can give a special touch to those other more mundane but equally special moments - a get-together, a romantic meal, a tasting, or even some “personal time.”
Whether with family, friends, or lovers, champagne is today the number one wine symbolizing the festive spirit and elegance of France throughout the world.
Please drink responsibly.
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