Champagne: a gorgeously bubbly beverage with which we love to toast to life, to love, to a Friday night.
Champagne: a region in northeastern France where the aforementioned beverage is exclusively produced.
To clarify: Champagne is only Champagne if it comes from said region, otherwise it is just sparkling wine, or maybe Prosecco or Cava, depending which nation it comes from. Part of that region is a place called Reims which is the unofficial commercial center of Champagne production and is a haven for lovers of bubbly.
A big part of the history of Reims is its major role in the monarchical system within France, as it was the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. If you choose to visit Reims, you should check out the world-famous cathedral, Our Lady of Reims, which was the location for these coronations.
It was this royal responsibility that led Champagne to become the drink of special occasion, as coronations were celebrated with the still wines of Champagne, starting with King Clovis in AD 496. The region became associated with such high status that once the bubbly edition of Champagne’s wine was created in the 17th century, it became immediately world famous and spread throughout the royal courts of Europe.
For most wine regions, it is the terroir and climate that truly decipher their different personalities and flavor profiles but for Champagne, it has more to do with their production houses and the philosophies behind them. They are basically wine production cellars but each was owned by a different family that had their own beliefs about formulas and combinations of the three Champagne grapes- Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier- that really differentiate each bottle.
There are many, many Champagne houses in Reims but the most famous is Veuve Clicquot, a house pioneered by a bold woman named Madame Barbe- Nicole Clicquot after her husband passed away.
You can tour most of the old Champagne houses in Reims which are still in great condition, and learn about their history and the part they played in the success of Champagne.
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