News Waitresses at Kitsch nightclub hold bottles of champagne

Pair were handed £66,778.91 and £64,279.70 bar tabs after ordering bottles of Cristal champagne and Dom Perignon.

Racing: Maguire pursuit

THE bookmakers no doubt hope that the sheer quantity of Bank Holiday racing will leave punters oblivious to its distinct lack of quality, and happy to put their cash on a different dubious animal every couple of minutes, writes Greg Wood. The televised cards, though, are the giveaway, with Channel 4 offering seven races: six handicaps and a maiden.

Grapevine: Kathryn McWhirter on the best from Victoria Wine

VICTORIA WINE was already a giant before taking over Augustus Barnett last year, but it now has 1,353 shops nationwide, topped only by the Thresher group (Thresher, Wine Rack and Bottoms Up). A select 11 Victoria Wine shops have been converted into super-smart 'Victoria Wine Cellars', with a much bigger range that includes many more fine wines. There should be 40 Wine Cellars by the end of the year, increasing to 150 next year.

From prison cell to well-stocked cellar: Anthony Rose learns how former criminal Jimmy Boyle developed an interest in wine

Jimmy Boyle was brought up in a hard school of wine drinking, on the streets of the Gorbals in Glasgow. 'Everyone drank El Dorado, or 'LD', the butt of a thousand Billy Connolly jokes. And there was Lanliq, known as Lanny. They were both South African. Everyone would drink and I would, too, to be one of the lads. But I was never really happy drinking whisky, El Dorado or Lanliq. This was when I was nine, in the early Fifties.

Bunhill: 'Offspring durch Technik'

LAST week we advertised for ideas for naming the new product, the dummy of a pregnant woman, produced by First Technology, the specialist supplier of safety devices for the motor industry.

Obituary: Andre Tchelistcheff

Andre Tchelistcheff, enologist: born Moscow 1901; married (one son); died Napa, California 5 April 1994.

Almanack: Dogs, dinners and the National health

GREYHOUND racing in Britain has been going through difficult times. Attendances have been falling, and recently a television documentary accused the sport of corruption, cruelty and canine genocide. Some who remember the sport's heyday in the 1950s despair of its modern condition. So it was with some foreboding that Almanack's man approached Hall Green Stadium in Birmingham on Grand National night. Would anybody be there?

Bunhill: Champagne sale

AT CHRISTIE'S in South Kensington last month a number of large bottles of champagne went to auction, including several very rare Methuselahs of Pol Roger and Moet & Chandon - those economy- sized vessels that hold the equivalent of eight ordinary bots. These came from 'private sellers' that Christie's refuses to name. But my mole with the hammer tells me the grog actually came from Buck House, unopened wedding presents given to Andrew and Fergie in happier days.

BEST-SELLERS / Top 10 Champagnes

------------------------------------------------------------------------ BEST-SELLERS / TOP 10 CHAMPAGNES ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 Perrier Jouet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pounds 16.99 2 Heidsieck Dry Monopole . . . . . . . . . . .pounds 12.99 3 Mumm Cordon Rouge . . . . . . . . . . . . . pounds 19.99 4 Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial . . . . . . . .pounds 17.49 5 Veuve Clicquot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pounds 19.99 6 H. Blin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pounds 13.49 7 Bollinger Special Cuvee . . . . . . . . . . pounds 21.75 8 Laurent Perrier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pounds 16.99 9 Henri Harlin Brut . . . . . . . . . . . . . .pounds 9.99 10 Lanson Black Label . . . . . . . . . . . . pounds 16.49 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Chart supplied by Oddbins (all bottles 75cl non vintage) ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Food & Drink: Champagne's message in a bottle: As the grandes marques start trying to improve their product, Anthony Rose offers his guide to the better bargains

Never mind the quality, look at the size of it. That is the early verdict on the astronomically large 1993 harvest in Champagne, a haul that should help to keep prices stable, but may prevent the year going down as a vintage one.

Golf: Gallacher U-turn over Ryder Cup captaincy: Jacklin loses out as players and committee back Scot

BERNARD GALLACHER yesterday accepted an invitation to lead Europe against the United States in the 31st Ryder Cup match at Oak Hill, Rochester, in 1995, thus completing a capital U-turn. The 44-year-old Scotsman, whose Ryder Cup record as captain is played two, lost two, was adamant that whatever the result at The Belfry two months ago he would stand down.

Food & Drink: Summer Choice

IN A Victoria Wine summer tasting the following stood out: 1992 AC Gaillac Blanc (pounds 3.75, reduced to pounds 3.49 for June; also pounds 3.59, Safeway, pounds 3.69, Oddbins). Intriguing bouquet and fresh lemony fruitiness.

DRINK / Champagne houses battle to get their sparkle back: The big names have agreed on tough action to reverse the alarming fall in sales caused by the recession, competition from the New World - and the tarnished image of their own product, writes Anthony Rose

THE SAGA of champagne is rather like a re-run of the history of the British motor industry. The British used to make some grand but very expensive cars, and some rather poor, fairly expensive cars. Along came the competition from Germany at the top end and Japan at the bottom and taught us a lesson. If we wanted to charge more for cars, they had to be clearly superior; if we wanted to compete in the mass market, we had to provide the same quality for the same price.

Bubbly war leads to bargains galore

CHAMPAGNE wars are in full swing on both sides of the Channel. In Britain, Tesco is selling the Louis Massing brand at pounds 7.95 a bottle, a price matched by Safeway's Lionel Derens.

Travel: Can't pay? There is no need to pay, monsieur: A little wine? Some cheese? An oyster? You might not get a free lunch, but Simon Calder discovers how to eat without money

MY GUIDEBOOK made it sound simple: 'If you want a free nibble or sip of whatever is being produced locally, look for the sign degustation. So I envisaged a kind of teach-yourself-gastronomy field trip: nibbling and sipping my way around France, armed only with a rail pass and an appetite. The prospect was mouthwatering.
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