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Sunday 13 December 2015

A bit/lot of cheer

HAPPY TIMES! Champagne (that's real champagne - not the sparklers known as cava, prosecco, cremant, sekt, etc.) is cheaper than at any other time in my life.

Why was it so expensive? Not to complicate things: labour-intensive and time-consuming manufacturing procedures.

Was real champagne worth it? Up to you, but the French think so. When, decades ago, some Spanish vineyards sold "Spanish Champagne" the French sued, causing them to desist. Now, if it says "champagne" on the bottle it's been made in eastern France, near the city of Reims, by the traditional method (m├ęthode champenoise).

Let's talk prices. Until fairly recently the lowest going price was about £25 (US: approx $40) a bottle. The big names (Mumm, Pol Roger, Heidsieck, etc) still charge this but may be disposed to deal a bit. What's changed significantly, in the UK at least, is the emergence of smaller, but legitimate, brands going at £10 a pop. (Thanks to Aldi, the German supermarket chain, who led the charge - see pic.)

Is it OK? Who'd ever believe me? But now you can afford to make up your own mind.

Hardline Hope, a novel (6665 words)

(Gayle said) But before that something personal. Your glasses.”

Lindsay sighed. “My glasses. Ah yes.”

“I take it you’ve been asked before.”

“More than once.”

Gayle looked serious. “Do you mind? Do you know what I’m going to say?”

“More or less. I assume you’re as blind as a bat. I assume you wear contacts and hate ‘em. And for two reasons. First because you always know they’re there. Second because you’re ashamed of being a wuss about wearing contacts.”

“I’ll give yew this, Lindsay. You talk straight.”

Note. TD will now be unproductive for a week or so.


  1. I may be in the minority but I just do not like champagne with its fizzyness. I am not really keen on white wine and the zest added by the bubbles means that I might just as well be drinking cheap pop. Churchill liked a glass of "Bolly" at breakfast. I'll stick to tea with my toast.
    Now a good red, that's different..............(but not at breakfast.)

  2. I wish I could join you in your round of Christmas markets. Enjoy!

  3. Is there a technical reason that champagne makes your (my) knees wobble?

  4. Seems a way 'round THAT rule's been turned up!

  5. Avus: The perfect dinner guest since more do than don't. Also a potential victim: just to say "good red" without any further qualification means you could be palmed off with a Beaujolais villages, a Bourgeuil, a Madiran, a "petit chateau" Bordeaux, something unexpected and terrible from close to Stuttgart, a Vimto-quality shiraz from Oz, or (a comparatively recent discovery) black-hearted glup from the Black Sea. Never be that anonymous: always take the spec. a step further ("one of the more modest Santenays", "a Pomerol if you've got it", "I really love Limestone Ridge", "Chile used to be good value but now it has to be pinot", "zinfandels have really come a long way in California", or "I thought South Africa was joking with pinotage, now I know they're not."), lay your cards on the table, show others you know what "good" is. Avoid being vulnerable and, chances are, you'll be offered the wine list and get to make your own choice.

    Ellena: Things were even better than I expected. See forthcoming posts

    Blonde Two: Not the knees in my case. Falstaff was talking about sherris sack (sherry) when he said: "It ascends me into the brain, dries me there all the foolish and dull and crury vapors which environ it, makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes" but you can substitute champagne. Of course others who have drunk with me may not agree with this prediction.

    MikeM: Read the post. I think the French were being pragmatic. I have heard of Korbel but never drank it while I was living in the US and can't, to my mind, remember seeing it on offer in Europe. Having got the major part of the agreement they wanted, I think the French let the lesser matter slip by. Having said that I shall be on the look-out; prices in the US seem to be remarkably low: $11.99 for Korbel Chardonnay Champagne non-vintage wine and $14.99 for Korbel Extra Dry.