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National Champagne Day

It's fitting that champagne would be celebrated today, as it is a staple in New Year's Eve celebrations. Champagne is a sparkling wine, and true champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, which is northeast of Paris, centered around the cities of Reims and Epernay. English scientist Christopher Merret experimented with sugar to produce a secondary fermentation in 1662, which creates the carbonation in champagne. Don Pérignon, a Benedictine monk, was cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvillers, and is given a lot of credit—some of which may be of legend—for stopping bottles from exploding by using better corks and thicker bottles, as well as for working to blend champagnes.

Champagne became very popular in the French court. It became a wine for special occasions and lavish dinners, which is how it is often still used today, for events such as weddings, anniversaries, births, and holidays. It can be made by one of three methods: the champagne process, the Charmat or bulk process, and the transfer process. The most commonly used grapes in champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. The first American champagnes were made in 1842 near Cincinnati, and used Catawba grapes. Over seventy countries have laws specifying that a sparkling wine must be from the Champagne region for it to bear the champagne name. In the United States, new wines cannot bear the name, but companies in existence before 2006 can include "champagne" in their name if they include their actual origin in their name too. For example, a sparkling wine could be named "California champagne."

In 2010, Americans drank 15.4 million cases of sparkling wine. Of these, 9.2 million were produced in the United States, 8 million of which were produced in California. Since the 1890s, the drink has also been known as "the bubbly," and in the 1920s it was commonly referred to as "gigglewater."

How to Observe National Champagne Day

Celebrate the day by popping a bottle of the bubbly and toasting a glass with friends. The most authentic way to celebrate the day would be to drink a wine from Champagne, but any sparkling wine will do.

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