Cuisine - - CONTENTS -

What we’re watch­ing, read­ing and cook­ing from now

AUS­TRALIAN WINE mer­chant Robert Wal­ters tells the story of ev­ery­one’s favourite French fizz in an en­gag­ing, pre­ten­sion-free man­ner, in­ter­spers­ing his­tory with the sto­ries of mod­ern-day grower-pro­duc­ers who are tak­ing on the Gran­des Mar­ques. Wal­ters be­gins by ex­plain­ing how sparkling wine hasn’t al­ways been fab­u­lous. Be­fore the 18th cen­tury, wine with bub­bles in it was con­sid­ered faulty, with some grow­ers and mer­chants even re­fer­ring to it as vin du di­a­ble – the devil’s wine. How­ever, cer­tain mem­bers of the elite de­cided they quite liked this fizzy stuff and be­gan specif­i­cally re­quest­ing more mousseux, and sud­denly it was all the rage. “Sweet, cold and bub­bly, Champagne was to be­come the world’s first mass-mar­ket party drug,” writes Wal­ters. “It not only went down a treat, it went straight to your head.” The role mar­ket­ing has had to play in the rise and rise of cham­pers is a re­cur­ring theme, and it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to learn that the big-bud­get ads and celebrity en­dorse­ments with which we’re bom­barded to­day are in fact a vari­a­tion on a cen­turies-old theme. ALICE NEVILLE

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