Why sparkling wine could shortly resemble a bottle of beer

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The Independent Online

The age of romance may be nearly dead. The projectory opening of a celebratory bottle of Moët could be a thing of the past, replaced by a ritual more familiar to drinkers of brown ale: reaching for an iron bottle opener, the bending of a crown top and a clunk as the lid hits the bottom of the bin.

The age of romance may be nearly dead. The projectory opening of a celebratory bottle of Moët could be a thing of the past, replaced by a ritual more familiar to drinkers of brown ale: reaching for an iron bottle opener, the bending of a crown top and a clunk as the lid hits the bottom of the bin.

Next month, Moët Hennessy will launch the first sparkling wine in Britain to be sealed with a beer-bottle cap. The Chandon Green Point Z*D ­ made by an off-shoot of the world's largest champagne producer, Moët & Chandon ­ will retail at a modest £12.99 a bottle. Made from chardonnay grapes, the sparkling wine has a metal "crown" top familiar to brown ale drinkers.

Moët expects other wine makers to copy its controversial use of this type of fitting on champagne in what marks the latest departure from traditional cork. However, some experts said it will kill the romance associated with champagne drinking.

John West, Moët Hennessy brand director for wines, said the advantage of a crown cap was the lack of cork "taint" ­ the fungal taste associated with corked wines ­ although he admitted that beer bottle-style caps lack cork appeal.

"It will still open with a good pop, and people will get used to it," said Mr West. "It doesn't quite have the visual appeal of a cork flying across the room, but it's probably not as dangerous either. Traditional corks will never be completely phased out. These are for people looking for something innovative."

Jamie Goode, publisher of the Wine Anorak website, said crown closures were a good idea but would never replace cork.

"Champagne doesn't just sell on the quality of the bottle; people are also buying a sense of mystery and celebration," he said. "The romance is part of the experience, which is why they can charge £15 for what is sometimes a very basic bottle of wine."

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