|Pinot Meunier grapes|
The results have even beaten certain Champagnes in blind tastings in the same way that some Californian wines have trumped claret in international competitions.
And yet people speak of English sparkling wine as being "quite good, actually" rather than de rigueur for any celebration. And producing a bottle of cava or prosecco is a subtle, subliminal sign that the occasion is not quite special enough to warrant The Real Thing.
So, Champagne has definitely got its PR right - but what of the wine itself?
If I'm honest, it would not figure in any of my desert island wines - or rather, perhaps, it would. I enjoy drinking Champagne readily enough, but as a lifelong bargain-hunter, I struggle to justify the cost of actually buying it for myself; my analytical mind says "This cost so much, it has to be correspondingly good". And of course it never is, because with Champagne, you are buying The Myth, in the same way that you are with the Porsche 911 or designer perfumes.
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