As we are about to enter the party season, we are looking at the greatest party drink of them all – Champagne! It is very interesting how people’s perception of the French fizz has changed over the past 30 years. Once it was considered something only for special occasions like Christmas, birthdays and weddings. The reason for the change in attitude is that Champagne prices have barely increased in recent years, whereas increased wealth makes it relatively more affordable.
There is so much more to Champagne than the fact it is a fabulous drink. It has a whole mystique surrounding it, and it’s unique method of production, which has now been copied the world over in ”Method Champenois”, was originally invented by a Monk!
The absolute attention to detail of the Champagne maker maintains this art and the pursuit of quality. The Champenois have been very vigilant in protecting their product and its name. If it does not come from the Champagne region, then it is not Champagne. For example, Champagne will never be found made under licence in China!
This ethos runs throughout the whole district regardless of the price of the bottle. The real factors that affect the price tag are the quality of the fruit, the length of aging and to an extent, the brand name. The method however remains the same throughout.
For those of you who travel regularly, I would suggest stocking up outside of Romania, as local prices are very high for reasons I can only put down to excessive margins. It is not a question of duty. Ironically the cheapest place to buy Champagne in the EU, especially on the big brands, is in the UK! The UK is a very large Champagne consuming nation and all the Champagne houses are vying for market share. Christmas is when the war really starts, so now is a great time to shop.
What are you drinking this Christmas? Our cellar is now very well stocked with Taittinger which is a great favorite of mine. On a visit to the UK this week I was lucky enough to time my arrival with the first of the Christmas price wars in one of the large supermarket chains. Half price on 4 of the major brands, one of which was Taittinger, means we are now ready for the party. I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year!
Richard Fox, [email protected]