Au Revoir, Champagne!

Great Britain, Observatory

So they thought our mothers were hamsters and our fathers smelled of elderberries, did they? Well, for years the French conned the world about their overpriced acidic antifreeze-pimped drink, but California proved them wrong a few years back in blind taste tests, and now it seems that the English are finally catching on too.

Back in 2007 we spent £1 billion on champagne in the UK. That figure is expected to fall to less than £700m this year, while sales of prosecco, cava and other sparkling wines are up 55%. Why?

The perceived snobbery of champagne is fading – just like the idea that a casino is classy and not full of fat Chinese guys in track suits. Nobody but an idiot now equates champagne with unattainable luxury – if it was, why is it trotted out at every middle-management knees-up, hen night and marketing awards ceremony?

The other night we drank Chapel Down Sparkling Rose, a genuinely stunning summer tipple from the first English winery to achieve a gold medal at the prestigious International Wine Challenge. It has a subtle softness that makes it a far less harsh quaff than even a good French champagne, and now they’re doing the same with beers.

So it’s back to ripping off the Russkies for you, snail-scarfing Neo-Nazi Appeasement-Boys, and long may Queen Elizabeth’s finest breweries serve the nation! (Sorry, I seem to have been overcome with Olympics/Jubilee national fervour for a moment).

6 comments on “Au Revoir, Champagne!”

  1. Xan says:

    Champagne is just a sparkling white wine (it’s the worst insult you can throw to a French person). There are quite good sparkling white wines from Chile ,or even Cava is better than most Champagnes.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    “,they’re doing the same with beers?” Exactly what are they doing with with beers?
    Here in the USA (Unfettered Arms Sales?)it is Federally illegal for a company to produce both wine and beer. (If that’s what you meant.)Recently learned that and I pass it along; must be a tax and regulation thing.

  3. snowy says:

    Ah champage, probably the longest running marketing con in history, (after the one based in Rome).

    Once scarce, expensive and dangerous, bottles would suddenly explode into a cloud of shrapnel if badly handled, making export even more difficult. Hence the preserve of the rich, for whom the cost and the death of an occasional servant was just a minor inconvenience.

    Once that was (largely) resolved, ending the export problem, (oh and the death thing). It was sold on the ‘pop’ and the ‘fizz’ something no other drink had. Reserved for the highest of celebrations, until it became the only thing one could serve, or risk committing a social faux pas.

    But as it got (relatively) cheaper it was everywhere, lukewarm, flat and rather nasty. Not helped by caterers, who would fill scores of glasses half an hour before serving, and just dropped in a splash from freshly opened bottle as the guests entered the room, in a doomed attempt to revivify it. It never worked.

    There are still some nice french champages, no honest, if you avoid the mega brands. I was given some as a gift for helping with something, and it tastes of … well this will only make sense to a small number of people… the raw, frosted sponge blocks that were sold to make a trifle. Hmmm trifle.

    “Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!”

  4. admin says:

    Don’t – I just saw Spamalot again – still very funny, although Marcus Brigstocke looked as if he’d wandered in from the Cambridge Footlights and was trying to find the way out.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    The ‘this year’s thing’ in beer here appears to be citrus additives “lime flavoured”,”a hint of lemon” I don’t know if the advertising boys were introduced to shandy or what but all the beers seem to be pushing the refreshing citrus thing.

  6. snowy says:

    “A beer for the gentlemen, and a wine or fruit-based drink for the ladies. Those are the rules. Where would we be if we didn’t have any rules? France. Where would we be if we had too many rules? Germany.”

    Traditionalists would say adding fruit to beer puts it in the latter category and no “right thinking man” would countenance it. But times and fashions change, though I would suspect it’s being used to cover up the lack of flavour in the bottled beer.

    The quote comes from a comic persona called “The Pub Landlord”. I would include a link but that may interrupt our hosts fiendish plotting (latest post), and I think he goes on to say something scurrilous about Canadians.

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