Champagne is a sparkling wine from France. Apart from the fact that the UK is by far the largest export market for the drink, the form Champagne takes today has only come about because of three significant English developments.
Punch's homage to Champagne, 1891
Wine simply bottled before it has finished fermenting (methode rurale) naturally becomes fizzy, and this, somewhat hit-and-miss, method had been followed in France (and elsewhere, cf; 'Gooseberry Champagne' or Quick Ale) for generations. In 1662 the English scientist Christopher Merret presented a paper to the Royal Society in London explaining a more reliable method of making wine sparkle - this is the procedure which became known as methode champenoise and is now universally followed in the French region. It is not clear whether Merret invented the method or merely codified it, but he was certainly several years ahead of the French wine-maker monk Dom Perignon.
Possibly the inventor of sparkling wine. Possibly not.
Street sign in Epernay, the centre of Champagne
The second English contribution was the bottle. Around the same time as Merret, Sir Robert Mansell's factories in Newcastle-on-Tyne were able to make the first glass bottles strong enough to safely withstand the pressure of a sparkling wine.
Champagne bottle from 1811
The third English contribution was when Perrier-Jouët, in response to demands from their English dealers, prepared an unsweetened 'brut' Champagne specifically for the British market. This is the style of wine which is now known as 'Champagne' the world over.
The wine merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd of London say that they formerly supplied Champagne in pint bottles, favoured by Winston Churchill. We have been unable to establish whether the 'pints' were English wine pints of 474ml, or 568ml ale pints, or the 500ml 'Jennie' pint still used in France, or perhaps the Old French wine pint of a truly Churchillian 952ml. While other wines such as Sauternes and Tokaj are frequently supplied in 'modern pint' bottles, their use for Champagne was officially discontinued in 2007.
Cartoon from 'Punch', 1872
Cheekily suggesting that the English Goosberry Wine version is the origin of Champagne
MORE FROM Foods of England...|
Cookbooks ● Diary ● Index ● Magic Menu ● Random ● Really English? ● Timeline ● Donate ● English Service ● Food Map of England ● Lost Foods ● Accompaniments ● Biscuits ● Breads ● Cakes and Scones ● Cheeses ● Classic Meals ● Curry Dishes ● Dairy ● Drinks ● Egg Dishes ● Fish ● Fruit ● Fruits & Vegetables ● Game & Offal ● Meat & Meat Dishes ● Pastries and Pies ● Pot Meals ● Poultry ● Preserves & Jams ● Puddings & Sweets ● Sauces and Spicery ● Sausages ● Scones ● Soups ● Sweets and Toffee ● About ... ● Bookshop ●
COPYRIGHT and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: © Glyn Hughes 2022
BUILT WITH WHIMBERRY