Just because we live so close to Napa Valley, doesn’t mean we have to drink champagne that is too expensive. In fact, if it is from California it isn’t really “Champagne” is it? The same problem is true all over the world, if it isn’t from the village of Champagne France, they can’t really call it “Champagne”.

Champagne is simply sparkling wine from the village of Champagne. Just as we know in California there are great sparkling wines that taste very similar to champagne and we many times refer to them as Champagne, technically they are not. Unlike some words that become so common the courts rule them as no longer copy protected, the village of Champagne somehow keeps the legal ownership of the name when referring to sparkling wine.

Sparkling Wine or Champagne

Obviously there are sparkling wines from all over the world and like the real deal, many are quite expensive. One of the great secrets of wine snobs around the world it knowing what is in the bottle, not just what is on the label. For instance there is a great secret in Napa regarding two wineries. They share the same grapes and wine maker and the bottle prices are $16 or $81. At home I drink the $16 bottle and when I want to show off at parties I bring the $81 bottle. No I am not sharing this secret today.

What I am sharing is that just a few steps away from Champagne France there are some great sparkling wines that are not named after a village. In fact they have the village name under the French word for the wine. In fact wines from Champagne are technically the same type of wine.

French Wine Naming

The French are funny about wine. Many wines are named after the village or area they come from like Burgundy. The world famous region produces all kinds of wines. There are red Burgundy’s and white Burgundy’s. The name simply means they are from the Burgundy region. Then there is Sauternes, a wine from the Burgundy region effected by the Boytrytis mold. Like blue cheese, Sauternes has a distinct flavor.

What’s that Got To Do With Champagne?

Champagne is technically a Crèmant from the village of Champagne. Crèmant is a type of sparkling wine using a “traditional method” of fermenting in the bottle. Some of my favorite sparkling wines aren’t from Champagne at all but rather the slightly warmer lower French valley’s. Trader Joes has a very drinkable Crèmant for under $20 in many of their stores. Just don’t show up to a fancy party with it, some Champagne snob might drink it while claiming it’s “tres horrible”.

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