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So did WE invent Champagne?


#1

I’m not sure whether the French have tongue firmly in cheek!


#2

I was wondering whether discover is the right word here not invent…


#3

Tongue-in-cheek or not, it’s rubbish.

Bottles have been undergoing secondary fermentations (and sometimes exploding) in many contexts, for a long time. No one discovered or invented that. On the other hand Christopher Merret found a way of consistently making fizzy wine by an induced secondary fermentation in-bottle. And he presented it to The Royal Society, and did so before this English Method was adopted in Champagne.


#4

Ha … this was on the Jeremy Vine show this morning …!! What a load of ole codswallop!


#5

Oz Clarke has a bit about this in his book ‘Red and White’


#6

More about Merret (and another Brit in the Chamlagne story) here


#7

And another interesting fact Mr Clarke mentions (this time in The History of Wine in 100 Bottles) is that it was in fact the cider makers of Hereford who worked out how to create and control the second fermentation in the bottle, basically by adding what we now call the dosage. It was supposedly from these cider makers that Merret learnt how to create that second fermentation.

The other great contribution from England was the glass itself - the verre anglais, which had to be tough enough to contain the liquid going through the second fermentation.

To confuse things further, I read in several books that sparkling wine was ‘invented’ (discovered is definitely a better description) by monks in Limoux, and Blanquette de Limoux is considered the first sparkling wine.

Still, a bit like myths of old, the ‘story’ and glamour attached to Champagne seem much more important than the truth. Let them drink Champagne.


#8

Hereford Cider Museum has an excellent display of the full process of producing Pomagne(?). It could be used as a tutorial on the Champagne production
One of our local cider makers has a product called ‘Applesecco’. It takes all sorts.


#9

And Dom Perignon spent time in Limoux before moving to Champagne where his job was to stop bottles from restarting their fermentation in spring after the cold of winter brought it to a halt.


#10

As @SteveSlatcher says.

I think the journalist misreported what Taittinger said
“The English left these inexpensive still wines on London docks and they got cold, so they started undergoing a second fermentation,” Taittinger told Le Figaro.

because wine doesn’t start a second fermentation when cold. The cold stops fermentation; it’s when temperature rises that fermentation recommences.

Merrett documented the process of inducing a second fermentation, it’s in the records dated before Champagne did the same thing.


#11

Just noticed the Sky article is longer than what I read the first time round. The first sentence is the main nonsense. It creates conflict where there is none - as you find out if you read the whole thing.

Also, as @peterm pointed out, it would be a warming that kicked of the secondary fermentation. The Figaro interview is available on video if you follow the link, so if your French is better than mine you could maybe determine what Mr Taittinger actually said.