Today was my wife’s birthday, in hospital still as its so soon after our daughters’ birth. Due to these circumstances I thought it best if I didn’t sneak away for a cocktail, but instead bought her favourite wine to help her celebrate from a hospital bed she was still unable to leave. And it was also about time we celebrated Margot with a glass of bubbly.
I suspect this will be my one non cocktail violation for 2018, or least I’m determined for this to be the case.
Over the years I’ve been very fortunate to be at a very opportune time for the development of bars and cocktails in the UK, and have been very lucky to have had some incredible experiences funded by the drinks industry, one of my favourites was a trip to champagne with Moet and Dom Perignon. We were lucky enough to have an incredible rep who has since left the industry, but was inspirational and instrumental for me to stay, and be interested in the drinks history side, while we were en-route to Dom Perignon he regaled us with a story about the creation of sparkling wine in France, something I’ve repeated often, and genuinely hope never to discover if its true or not, as the story is too good.
We have champagne because the English and the French, have throughout history, hated each other. Dom Perignon was experimenting with sparkling wine, and loved it, ‘I’m tasting stars’, however at the time the glass bottles were not strong enough to deal with the pressure caused by the fermentation and exploded with alarming regularity. The English, in response to some alleged slight decided to build a navy to destroy the French and all wood was requisitioned for the building of giant cannon carrying channel cruising monsters, if you wanted a fire to make glass you needed to use a different fuel, like coal. Coal burns at a higher temperature and produces glass which is much stronger and tougher. These bottles found there way to France where a delighted Dom Perignon discovered they could withstand the pressure, which allowed the sparkling wine he was perfecting to be produced on a commercial scale, and voila, champagne was invented.
To add insult to injury, documentation has recently been discovered in the UK that a Christopher Merrett delivered a paper to the Royal Society in London setting out how to make a sparkling wine from French still wine using an ‘in bottle’ secondary fermentation, and how to make tougher bottles so they wouldn’t explode 6 years before Dom Perignon was born.
Yes, it was the English who invented champagne.