If Champagne is the celebration wine, perhaps English can be the wine of commiseration, at least until we once again have reason to rejoice.

The English have never been short of reasons to drink, what with our climate, our rulers and the isolation that only a few crackpots ever really thought was splendid, but at present it’s hard to find reasons to wait until lunchtime, so numerous and buoyant are the sorrows we have to drown.

The last vestige of our world-dominating status may be found on our wine shelves, and it’s a tragic irony that post-Brexit trade barriers may remove that, too. Not quite as ironic as a descent into fascism precipitated by myths of Nazi-beating, plucky little islanders, but upsetting nonetheless.

Because England was once great, the world’s wine came to our shores: we are still the biggest export market for regions from Champagne to South Africa. And England’s greatness was partly thanks to wine: Edward III expanded our navy partly to ship wine from Bordeaux, then under English rule, back to the thirsty motherland. Our naval powers ended up capable of sinking the Spanish Armada and building an empire, but not before losing Bordeaux back to the French at the end of the Hundred Years War – a conflict that Edward III had started. The English propensity for shooting ourselves in the foot is of long standing; in contrast, English exceptionalism is simply a myth. We win some, we lose some, and we are currently on a losing jag that would make a gambling addict quail.

Thank goodness, then, that English wine is on a winning streak. More than 3,500 hectares of England and Wales are now under vine; if imports go through the roof, we can just drink homegrown, and won’t that make our masters happy, as …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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