Sparkling wine is wine with bubbles-like soda, but not artificially carbonated. Sparkling wine was first perfected in Champagne, France, in the early 1700s by the Benedictine monk and cellar master Dom Perignon. (So that’s who he was!) Upon seeing the bubbles in his glass, the good brother eloquently captured the essence of his discovery with the words, “I am drinking stars!”
In the United States, the terms champagne (that’s a lowercase c!) and sparkling wine often are used interchangeably. Legally, winemakers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are allowed to use the name champagne for their sparkling wines with one catch: The bubbles must be produced naturally during the fermentation process and not added through artificial carbonation. Within that requirement, the choice of grape varieties is up to the producer, and champagne can be made by several methods (not necessarily those used by the French).
In France, the home of the real (capital C) Champagne district (or appellation), the story is entirely different. Understandably, the proud French are not amused that others use the name of their fine and cherished creation for just any effervescent wine.
In France, only sparkling wines made from grapes grown in the Champagne region may bear the name Champagne (or anything resembling it). This rule is law, also, in all the member nations of the European Union.