Quite possibly the most famous Champagne and the most famous Benedictine monk, Pére Pérignon has been touted as the inventor of Champagne. Although the romantics and the French (I know that is a little redundant) stick to this story, the image of a lovable blind monk being the first to stumble upon this magical wine is unfortunately not true.
The process of converting still wine into sparkling was documented well before the famed monk laid claim. Christopher Merret, a British scientist, executed the first documented instance of voluntary secondary fermentation. Outside of his research, he did little to further improve upon his findings. That was not his objective; he was a scientist, not a winemaker. That job was left to Pére Pérignon.
Pére Pérignon truly earned his reputation as an innovator. His creation was referred to as le vin du Père Pérignon and it became the must have wine of the time. His innovations and his ability to elevate a wine to such heights that it can now only be claimed by one region in the world is why we celebrate him.
In the end, Dom Pérignon may not have been the first, but does it really matter?!
P.S. - I am aware that I am blinking in the picture and look like a fool, but Dom is in the background an that makes me very cool.