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Tuesday, July 16

The Debunker: Did Dom Pérignon Invent Champagne?

by Ken Jennings

The indisputable highlight of July is one day of patriotic fireworks, parades, and red-white-and-blue flags waving in national fervor. I’m speaking, of course, of July 14—Bastille Day, the most important holiday in France. So crank “La Marseillaise” and allow quiz show champ Ken Jennings to help you out with his formidable! knowledge of all things French.

French Myth #2: Sparkling Wine Was Invented by Champagne Monk Dom Pérignon.

If everything you know about champagne comes from rap videos, you probably assume that (1) it’s mostly for spilling on stuff, not for drinking, and (2) it was invented by some French guy named Dom Pérignon. In fact, the eponymous 17th-century Benedictine monk was a leading winemaker of his time, but wine expert Tom Stevenson has recently uncovered evidence that the refermentation of wine by adding sugar and molasses, which we today call the méthode champenoise, was actually invented in 1662, six years before Pierre Pérignon became a monk. Champagne was born in England, of all places!

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