The Catholic roots of the “Italian champagne”

Jan 14, 2022 463

As some of us may know, we owe the birth of the world’s favorite sparkling wine, champagne, to a Catholic monk, Dom Perignon, a 17th-century Benedictine monk. He was one of the winemaking pioneers who perfected the art of making clear white wines in the Champagne region of France. But not many of us may know that the Italian version of champagne, the Franciacorta wine produced in the picturesque hills around Brescia, northern Italy, also has Catholic roots. 

Sparkling wine in the region of Franciacorta, northwest of Milan, has been popular since at least the Middle Ages. The name Franciacorta itself refers to a series of monasteries that came to this region from Cluny, in France, around the 11th century. These monasteries and the lands they owned were spared from taxes owed to the king so locals started to refer to them as “franca-corta,” literally “a court free of charges.” The name was later morphed into today’s Franciacorta.

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