Champagne [pronunciation: sham-payn]

Champagne refers to both a region in France and the sparkling wine famously produced there.

The Champagne region is a strictly defined area of northern France, encompassing 634 villages in five different départements: the Aisne, Aube, Haute-Marne, Marne and Seine-et-Marne. However, the viticultural appellation is even more restricted, and only 318 of these villages have the right to produce the wine called Champagne.

Champagne (the wine) can only come from Champagne (the region), and in the European Union (as well as in those countries who have agreed to reciprocal arrangements with the E.U.) the use of the word Champagne to refer to any other products is strictly forbidden. Unfortunately, in other places in the world, including the United States, the term Champagne is still sometimes used to refer generically to any sparkling wine.

Champagne also lends its name to Méthode Champenoise (a.k.a. Méthode Traditionnelle), as all sparkling wines made in the region must follow this strict vinification protocol.

See also: Sparkling Wine
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