Man about town: In France, champagne is just a drink - not a marker of class

A trip to the Krug celebration showed another side of the luxury tipple

Share
Related Topics

The French translation for “champagne socialist” is gauche caviar, i.e. leftie caviar muncher. I've been told that it's because in France champagne is classless; to buy it says nothing of your background, wealth or political allegiances. In fact you might be viewed suspiciously if you didn't want to drink it. Caviar on the other hand... I was thinking about this on the way to Champagne this week. The region's main city, Reims, seems to reflect this: façade-less industrial buildings sit next to champagne houses, icons of luxury and the stunning cathedral with all cohabiting quite happily. Perhaps it shows the drink's true place, in a position of luxury, but not impossibility. I was there because I had been invited to the Krug Celebration, held in France to celebrate its most popular breed of bubbles, the Grande Cuvée.

I'm aware that a celebration for a bottle of bubbly might be tautological in party terms, given that champagne is essentially bottled celebration. But after visiting the house's temporary "institute of happiness" in London last year, I was keen to see how it did things at home.

Joseph Krug, who founded the company in 1843, was a man determined to do things differently from the norm. He wrote down his thoughts about wine-making in an old notebook (with "pleasure" as its basis) which has passed down the generations. And the company is still centred on the family house where Olivier Krug (now director of the company) grew up.

Today, it wants to stand out, from drinking champagne from white wine-style glasses so that you taste it more, to releasing different vintages at the same time, to employing a Venezuelan woman, Margareth Henriquez, as the company president – a role held generally in the region by French men.

Following tours of the cellars and a trip to the Clos d'Ambonnay (one of Krug's special walled vineyards), we learned just how difficult it was to blend various different wines to make champagne. We tried the blend that will hit shelves in 2021. Unsurprisingly, it was better than the mix I had made at the table.

It has been an education. One thing they seemed keen for us to learn is that the company recognises that although it comes at a price, champagne can't be seen as too exclusive for someone to celebrate with. Leave the exclusivity to the caviar-sellers.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links