Category Archives: The Miscellany

Champagne on tap – Pommery style

In the last couple of days there’s  been a fuss in the British press about ‘prosecco on tap’. There are plenty of bars up and down the land where this has been on offer for the last year or so. Now the Consorzio de Conegliano Valdobbiadene have threatened to take the venues to court. EU rules say prosecco (like champagne) can only be sold from the bottle. The Italians claim that drinking it from a tap causes confusion and damages their sales. But there’s a rather fine Pommery precedent from the 1920s… Continue reading

Pol Roger – drinking the 1892 vintage

Blog readers (thank you all) may remember that I wrote fairly recently about an excellent Pol Roger tasting given by Cassidy Dart in Cambridge.

Cassidy recently tasted some of the older Pol Roger wines as part of the launch activity for the latest 2002 vintage of their justly famed ‘Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill’ (an immediate sell-out) and I thought his informal notes were worth a post on their own – plus some added commentary from me.

Pol Roger brand

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Brandolatry in the 19th century

‘Brandolatry’ – or the ‘worship of brands’ – seems like a remarkably modern concept but the term was coined by William Hudson, a nineteenth century wine merchant and champagne expert who was an astute – if sometimes rather under-handed – publicist in the years 1868-1897.

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‘On the scale from riches to ruin’: the cargo of champagne in R.L.Stevenson’s Ebb-Tide

One of Robert Louis Stevenson’s very last books was Ebb-Tide. His step-son Lloyd Osbourne shared the credit for this 1894 work but it seems clear that Stevenson wrote all the second part (‘The Quartette’) and heavily revised the first part (‘The Trio’)[1].


Briefly, the story is of a trio of ‘on the beach’ bums; each a failure in his own way, each hiding his real identity, each close to the point of death or despair on the wind and rain swept beach of Samoa. Continue reading

‘Steady’ on the champagne | Australia’s 1880 recipe for cricketing success

Though the touring Australian cricketers lost the September 1880 Test Match (the first to be held in England), they had, overall, a successful tour, winning 4 of the 8 matches they played against first-class sides, with 3 draws and 1 narrow loss.

In August 1880 when they were still undefeated, their captain and star batsman, W. L (Billy) Murdoch was asked for the secret of their success.


Billy Murdoch – no 2 Australian batsman of all time?

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Women in wine|the 19th century

Over a hundred years ago, my grandmother (then in her early 20s) was taken on to work at the Prudential Insurance Company’s Head Office in London. Men and women were on separate floors and her main memory was that many of the girls working there kept long white gloves in their desk drawers so that they could head straight out in the evening after work. Incidentally, there was a ‘language’ of gloves just as there was a language of fans. Holding the tips of the gloves downward meant ‘I wish to make your acquaintance’.


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