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The Champagne region: The centre of a billion-pound industry

The Champagne region: The centre of a billion-pound industry

A look at the hampagne region and its importance in the global wine industry

The birthplace of Champagne

The effervescent sparkling drink that we’ve all come to adore has an interesting backstory. And it all started with a complete accident! Back in the 1690s, wine growers in France, specifically the Champagne region, were trying their damnedest to develop a new version of wine that would rival Burgundy wines. The pioneer leading this project was Dom Pierre Pérignon, who was a French Benedictine monk.

However, these efforts kept failing. It was all down to the fermentation process being halted because of cold winters in the region. But then something magical happened. When springtime rolled around, the yeast became active again. The delayed fermentation process caused carbon dioxide to be released in the bottles that the wine had been stored in.

The result? You guessed right: champagne!

However, in recent years, some have argued that an Englishman was actually the first to invent sparkling wine, which it is claimed happened around 30 years earlier. A scientist and metallurgist named Christopher Merrett was apparently experimenting with different ideas, one of which involved adding sugar to wine. The debate continues, although we recommend you stay avoid saying this to any French people, especially if you are a guest in their house!. 

How the region has transformed since its humble beginnings

Today, the Champagne regions consist of over 34,000 hectares dedicated to vineyards. It produces a staggering 300 million bottles of sparkling wine every single year. Interestingly enough, many argue that three grape varieties are used in the Champagne region. However, the truth is that there are actually seven varieties that can be used. The area is home to over 250 Champagne ‘houses’ directing the industry. The sector directly employs around 30,000 people and had an annual global market size of nearly $6 billion US dollars in 2021.  

Bottle sizes

Even casual drinkers of champagne will know that there are various sizes of champagne bottles which are commercially available. These range from the Piccolo – which is enough for one small glass – to the Nebuchadnezzar. This holds a whopping 15 litres (20 standard 750 ml bottles) and weighs in at around 37 kilos. You’ll get over 100 glasses out of it, but you’re going to need a few people to help you pour it out!

UNESCO

Champagne has become so renowned for its cultural importance that in 2015 the region was awarded the status of UNESCO World Heritage area. Champagne is something that has passed down through the centuries and it’s very likely it will continue to do so for many years to come. Clever marketing through the 20th century to the present day has meant the wine has become a key part of popular culture (imagine James Bond and the winners’ podium of motor racing without it!), and it’s safe to say that the future looks sparkling bright.

Final thoughts

The Champagne region is a truly fascinating place. The wine industry wouldn’t be the same without it! Yes, the sparkling wine options that come from the area may have expensive price tags, but it’s the real deal, the quality is second to none.

Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about the region, so you can entertain your friends with some delightful facts about champagne the next time you’re sipping the delicious sparkling beverage. However, make sure to scan the room to check for any French people before starting a debate about who invented the drink!

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