Ultimate Guide to the Champagne Wine Region

Champagne Wine Region History and Culture

How did Champagne become famous? It turns out that monks were t­he first people responsible for producing wine in this region. But in 496 on Christmas Eve, the region of Champagne officially entered into history when Clovis, the king of France, was anointed with sparkling wine by Saint Rémi to celebrate Clovis's conversion to Christianity [source: Le Champagne]. However, the champagne that we know today was actually not invented until the 17th century. According to the French, the invention of champagne, by a monk, is generally attributed to Dom Péringnon [source: Champagneinfo.net].

The region got its major boost after the cathedral in Reims was designated the location for crowning kings from 987 to1825 [source: Le Champagne]. This led to champagne being consumed at all kinds of celebrations. Visiting royalty from other countries were also given the opportunity to taste the royal drink. And so, as the years went by, the legend of champagne wine grew.

In 1882, the champagne houses of France realized they truly had something special. They joined together to form the Union of Champagne Houses, with two objectives: protect the Champagne name and fight against phylloxera (a disease that destroyed grapevines). They called their group l'Union des Maisons de Champagnes (UMC), and it's still active today. The Union is the force behind any lawsuits that are brought against producers of sparkling wines who try to use the Champagne name [source: UMC]. Yes, that's right. Many winemakers of sparkling wine have attempted to use the name Champagne on their labels of sparking wine. But unless it's made in the Champagne region of France, sparkling wine cannot be called champagne.