‘ Champagne ’

We’re focusing on the quintessentially British summer season of sporting events, concerts, open-air theatre and opera, not to mention summer weddings and garden parties, all subject to the unpredictable British weather. Historically, many of these events including Henley Regatta, Ascot Races, Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon were all part of the British summer ‘Season’ that ran from May to August.

John’s book ‘Champagne’ a celebration of the bubbly tipple synonymous with conviviality, takes a wry look at some of these social occasions.

In 1916, on his 13th attempt, 16-stone Yorkshireman, Thomas Burgess finally swam the channel.

‘With true Yorkshire grit, he persisted and just before 10am the following day, after almost 23 hours, he stepped onto French soil, still naked, to be greeted by a crowd of admiring Frenchmen. Burgess then drank some more of his Champagne.’

Ian Mather, Country Life, 4th December, 2013

illustration from John Burninghams Champagne


I sing to the king fermented, tra la la,
Bubbly ornamented, tra la la,
There’s simply no describing
The pleasures of imbibing.
The curse of human dryness
Is banished by his highness:
Chanpagne the first
The king by acclimation,
The monarch of libation
In bubbly coronation!

A toast, a toast, a toast

From Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss II

illustration from John Burningham's Champagne

“Possibly, because of the peculiarly British pursuit of standing around in damp marquees for several hours at wedding receptions, where the rasping acidity of a young Champagne plays havoc with the stomach, the British consumer has developed a preference for Champagne with more age, a tatse known by some incredulous Frenchmen as ‘Le Gout Anglais’. ”

Christopher Burr, Christie’s International Magazine, Oct 1998