The Knight Who Invented Champagne

The Knight Who Invented Champagne

£25.00

How Sir Kenelm Digby developed robust glass bottles – verre Anglais – which enabled wine and cider-makers to produce bottle-fermented sparkling wines and ciders.

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By Stephen Skelton, MW

The Knight Who Invented Champagne is the story of how developments in the British glass industry in the early part of the seventeenth century led to the production of strong glass bottles, the so-called verre Anglais. These bottles were robust enough to contain the pressure of sparkling wine, which led to the production of bottle-fermented sparkling wines and ciders.

This is the story of King James I, Admiral Sir Robert Mansell and Sir Kenelm Digby (and a few others) and the part they all played between 1615 and 1630-32 in revolutionising the production of glass. The changes they helped bring about led to the development and production of stronger glass – verre Anglais – that could be used for making bottles that would withstand the pressure caused by a secondary fermentation in the bottle. By 1662, we know that it was common practice by cider-makers, vintners and coopers to add raisins and sugar to wine and cider at bottling to start a secondary fermentation in the bottle. All of this happened several years before Dom Pérignon, often credited with ‘inventing Champagne’, took up his position as cellarer at the Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers.

Stephen Skelton, MW, is an award-winning author and has written extensively on viticulture and English and Welsh wines. He is a Master of Wine and Freeman of the Vintner’s Company. Stephen is today one of the leading viticultural consultants working in Britain, helping people establish and manage their vineyards.

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Weight0.525 kg