A Sommelier's wine secrets
So you’ve fallen in love with that new find, a trendy Pink Moscato wine that you found on the grocery store shelf with a sticker that says it’s only $5.99. You’d be surprised to know that Moscato is actually one of the oldest domesticated grapes in the world with a long, luscious history. Moscato, Moscatel and Moscadello grapes are all derived from the same geographically diverse, easy growing ancient grape varietal, Muscat. The Egyptians and Persians were onto the fact that Muscat was a fabulous, quaffable deck wine as far back as 3,000 – 1,000 BC. There are four principal varieties of Muscat, in differing berry hues and intensities, which include Muscat Hamburg, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc A Petits Grains (literally means small berries) and Muscat Ottonel. To make this simple fact more confusing the name of the growing region is added to the grape name, while others, the name is altered slightly based on the location. For example Moscato di Asti (Italy) Muscat d’ Alsace (Austria), Moscatel (Spain), Muskateller (Germany) Tamaioasa Alba (Romania) Tokaji (Hungary), Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (Loire), Muscat du Cap Corse (Corsica) and many, many more. The Muscat grape lends itself to various wine-making styles and techniques unique to each wine region, so some Muscat wines can be mass produced (Pink Moscato of California), light and fizzy (Moscato di Asti - Italy), dry still wines (Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise - Loire) and also viscous, decadently sweet wine (Tokaji - Hungary). Despite the numerous sobriquets and variety of styles, it doesn’t seem to matter where the grapes is grown or how the wine is made, but there is a universal love for Muscat.
Dom Perignon didn’t do it, Madam Clicquot didn’t do it, it was the British that did it. I know it hurts, but the British should actually get credit for creating Champagne. For decades people have assumed that the French were the inventors of Champagne. However, the first ever-documented mention of champagne in any language was from an English text in 1676, which claims the English used to import French wines in casks and then add sugar and molasses to create champagne (The Champagne Shop, 2002). Even worse, the British produced stronger, more durable glass bottles to withstand the pressure which is created by the champagne. And, the final straw, the British rediscovered the use of cork in Champagne bottles before the French, since cork had been used in England since Roman times.
So, where was Monsieur Perignon when all of this was happening? It appears while Britain was advancing their champagne production techniques, Dom Pérignon. was busy trying to remove the bubbles from his wine, thinking that they were a flaw. And Madame Clicquot was desperately trying to remove the yucky stuff that settled to the bottom of the champagne bottle.
The next time you’re enjoying a great glass of Champagne you can blame the British.