The New European: How love of bubbles has made Britain fizz

It was, for many, a year with not much to celebrate, but Britons still managed to get through 152 million bottles of champagne and sparkling wine in 2016. Whether Brexit means we end drinking far fewer remains to be seen, but seems a very distinct possibility. In truth, though, Britain has always fluctuated in its fizz affiliation, even if the drink’s association with good times has been unchanging. Champagne has been with us since the reign of Charles II and has always been the standard against which all other sparkling wines are judged. They have aped it at their peril. Cava, as the original low-cost alternative on the UK market, made the mistake of referring to itself as champán, or xampany in Catalan – Spanish champagne, in other words – and it was only in 1972 that ‘Cava’ became its official name, as a result of an agreement with France to stop impinging on their nomenclature. In the early 1970s, when the British first began to take a genuinely popular interest in wine, the general reputation of Spanish wine was one of oxidised, migraine-inducing, pungent reds, exported not by the bottle, but by the tanker…

The New European, 10 February 2017, pp. 34-35.

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