Englishmen “please shoot first”!

Which was done and we thank them for it!

The passion for French wine brought our friends across the channel, to develop a vivid imagination.
The amphora was the first vessel to contain wine, but not very practical, heavy and fragile during transportation, she was replaced by the wooden barrel. This was practical for transportation puposes but inappropriate for its conservation, since the wine rapidly turned to vinegar.
The barrel was also rather cumbersome for service on the table, therefore a more practical conditioning method had to be found, this was done by our friends the “English”. It was in the XVIIth century that the thick and stable shaped glass bottle first appeared, answering to the needs of wine merchants.
Henceforth the bottles are found on the tables, but where not hermetically closed. In the antiquity, Greeks and Romans, used to close off their amphora with cork. These where replaced in the Middle Ages, by bits of cloth and leather and by other rather unorthodox means in order to close off the bottles.
Always, in that same century, our friends the English, them again, redeveloped the cork, due to its intrinsic qualities and capacity to seal of the wine and hence, its conservation in the bottles.
Now that the cork has been invented, obviously the corkscrew followed, and yet again its the “Englishmen” in the beginning of the XVIIIth century that developed the first corkscrew around 1795, filing a patent for the first corkscrew with a bolt and screw mechanism.
But that’s not all, for all this was extremely beneficial to the development of this divine beverage that’s wine. And us, the French, can be proud, and still not so long ago, as having the best wine in the world.
However, there is another English phenomenon, inherent to the only 100% French wine in the world, and never equaled to this day that is: Champagne.
It is in the middle of the seventeenth century that the English, bottle this French wine that came from the Champagne region and had not finished its fermentation. The French, in those days considered that this wine was defective. This white wine is then bottled in solid black glass bottles and the cork tied up with hemp string, in order to be opened the following spring. In 1660, the “popping cork” Champagne wine, sparkling and frothy, became THE wine of the British gentry.
Therefore the English also invented Champagne but…national pride obliges, it is the French that have made it a prestigious, precious, fantastic and never equaled wine.

Phew! Saved our national pride, but we have to admit that our English friends, connoisseurs and amateurs as well as collectors of Grand Crus, have really helped in the development of these wines of which we are so proud.

One has to read « La bouteille de vin, Histoire d’une révolution » by the éminent specialist of the history of wine, Mr. Jean-Robert PITTE, published by Taillandier.      (N.T. Pas encore traduit.)

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