How to Celebrate an Anniversary on a School Night and why Champagne isn’t a French Creation

My wife and I celebrated our third year of marriage this week. Seeing as we had work the next day we didn’t go out but made sure we had everything we needed:


We’ve got some flowers there, of course, some really rather delicious chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (really nice), and champagne, with a strawberry. The strawberry really does go well with the bubbly.

The eagle-eyed among you might notice that although we are using champagne flutes, they look a bit…strange. Well they’re plastic. We don’t have a good track record with glass glasses in this house so we stick to the plastic variety. And the champagne didn’t suffer for it.

Now whilst sipping (maybe slurping) my champagne I was reminded of the book I am currently reading – ‘1000 Years of Annoying the French’, by Stephen Clarke; a Briton living in Paris. In it he describes in entertaining detail the roots of the reasons why Anglo-French relations are always a little ‘tense’.

Not that I personally have any interest in annoying any one specific group* – in fact my sister-in-law is French and my in-laws spend half the year in Aix en Provence. And a very nice place that is I can tell you.

*(I prefer to target individuals, based on some petty, presumed slight or imaginary insult)

Clarke expounds a theory that shakes one of the oldest accepted facts about food and drink to it’s core. France is not the place where Champagne was created. In fact its worse than that – the man regarded as the creator of champagne – Dom Perignon – actually was trying to NOT make champagne!

GASP! Les horrible! Indeed, but according to this worthy tome Dom (to his mates), the monk, was trying to figure out ways of getting rid of the natural bubbliness of the brew because it kept blowing up the bottles.

We Brits, on the other hand, loved the bubbles in the booze and because we were able to make better, thicker, bottles, actively encouraged producers to make it as bubbly as possible (by inventing the process of adding sugar)  – while the French were trying to flatten it. In the end we won out because we bought so much the producers just went on bubbling it up!

So it’s simple – the British invented champagne. Americans love champagne just as much as anyone else. However unless champagne is produced in the Champagne region in France, it is not allowed to be called ‘Champagne’, and this is written into international law and has been since the end of the First World War. Everyone sticks to this law, even the North Koreans.

Well everyone except the Americans – you lot take no notice of such things. You have ‘Californian Champagne’! It pisses the French off big time. If we created ‘Cornish Champagne’ we’d get booted out of the EU, invaded by a French-backed peacekeeping force (just like William did back in 1066) and I’d be trying to right this blog in a language I never bothered to learn at school – ooh la la!

40 thoughts on “How to Celebrate an Anniversary on a School Night and why Champagne isn’t a French Creation

  1. A very late congratulations. And enjoyed every sentence of the post. We’ve listened to “A Year in Provance” many times as a family and love the jabs at both the British and the French (ah, well, when we actually get the jabs.) Cheers, and “to many more years!”

  2. Happy anniversary! I think that things are about to come full circle: I’ve read several articles about how Britain will be the next “Champagne” producing-region thanks to climate change. And I have a “British” friend who has already made a (premature) investment on a vineyard.

  3. I have a friend who got into a terrible disagreement about his subject. It seems like a subject that is as sensitive as politics. I like the bubbly for special occassions but not a fan for drinking on other days. My friend loves it on Sunday for brunch. Sssooo … that’s not important. What is??? Your anniversary … CONGRATULATIONS … you are on your way to a wonderful loving life together. May you have many more joyous ones.

  4. Congrats to you and your wifey on your anniversary! She certainly is a lucky lady!
    And special thanks to you Brits, New Years would not be the same without that bubbly… 🙂

  5. Happy anniversary. My eagle eyes weren’t focused on the plastic champagne glasses because I looked & wondered why you’d dropped tomatoes in your champagne. Strawberries – much better choice.
    You’re getting quite the history lesson(s)…some of it even factual.

      • I was really impressed that you knew about where the cajuns came from (Canada & upper Maine) but the part about the Louisiana purchase being a bargain at 3 cents/acre… well, I’d say the French made out on that deal.
        American history’s a lot easier than yours – you’ve got so much more to try to remember. Wouldn’t want to have to take a history test on British history.

        • No, actually it’s quite funny reading this book. Everyone is called Henry or Mary I mean seriously it’s like no one had thought up any other names. I was dealing with four kings all called at Henry at one period in time and I thought ‘No wonder it was called the Dark Ages no one could even work out who the other guy was’.

  6. 1.) Happy Anniversary!
    2.) Great blog- loved the history and the humor (“even North Korea”- too funny!)
    3.) I would apologize for my country, but we annoy other countries, it’s what we do. Me apologizing isn’t going to stop America from behaving like your kid sister who’s ticked off that she has to sit at the kids’ table. It’s a thing.

    Keep blogging- I always enjoy them.

    With affection,

    One of those Americans


    P.S. I live in Northern California and near lots of those California Champagne places- though most of them do market as “Sparkling” wine 🙂

    • Thanks – I’m getting into American history a bit, reading this book. The West Coast doesn’t even feature at the moment (I’m in the middle of the Louisiana Purchase – or the Lousiana Sale as the French call it. They sold off their share for about $15 million which works out at 3 cents an acre – bargain!)

    • Mmm. Newcy Brown always reminded me of drinking soup. Right now I’m reading about the origins of Cajun – it comes from the region called Acadie apparently – a group of settlers in what is now Maine (or somewhere near there) who were kicked out by the British (of course) and ended up settling on the south coast. This might be slightly incorrect based on the fact that i can only retain about 20% of what I read…

  7. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrated three years last September, coming up to four this September. It’s been just great – no arguements, but on the minus side, no kids thus far. (we probably need to shag a heck of a lot more to produce those.. lol) Have you guys got any kids yet? What are you planning in that regard?

    I laughed when I saw the plastic cups. We were given some gorgeous celebratory flutes for our wedding with nice engravings on them (doves or something equally as tacky) which Iike to crank out for our anniversary. They have survived three moves thus far, assisted by the fact that we are keeping them in their original, protective, box.

    • Yes we had some nice champagne flutes but they didn’t last too long. As for kids there’s a 12 year old going on 16 and a 9 year old that still likes lego so that’s good news

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