Letter: We know wine

I DO NOT know which is worse, the chauvinism of the French media or the hysterical self-disgust of their British confreres. In the article on wine scams ("Plonk passes for rioja with the British", 5 September), instead of dwelling on the perpetrators, Mark Rowe expresses gleeful contempt at the stupidity of Brits who pay over the odds for poor-quality wines. In fact, the British have a tradition of being open-minded and knowledgeable about wine.

According to the French historian Xavier de Planhol, the British played a key role in the development of Bordeaux and it was we, not the French, who invented champagne. In his Historical Geography of France he says the success of the first high-quality clarets, particularly Lafite, Latour and Margaux, "was closely linked to the prosperity of England and the sophistication of its 18th-century society". As for champagne, having been successfully developed in England in the 17th century, "it naturally occurred to French wine producers to prepare them in their own country, which Dom Perignon, the bailiff of the Abbey of Hautvilliers, proceeded to do..."


London N10