Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Night They Invented Champagne

It can't, of course, be called champagne, since by law that word can only be used for the French stuff, but in fact England makes excellent sparkling wine, quite the equal of all but the very best champagne.   There are 400 vineyards in England, mostly in Sussex, where soil and climate conditions compare well with Champagne across the Channel, and the same varieties of grape are also used to make the wine.

The really interesting thing is that although we have all been taught that champagne was "invented" by Dom Pérignon in Épernay, the méthode champenoise was in fact first described and documented by an Englishman, Christopher Merret (1615-1695), in a paper presented to the Royal Society in 1662 .   The owners of the multi-award-winning Ridgeview estate in Sussex are trying to establish his name as a generic term for English sparkling wine, as in "Let's have a glass of Merret".

I am looking forward to a glass of Merret on May 7th!

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