by Fred McMillin
for March 16, 1998

This Brut's a Beaut


New in 1811 in Europe: 1) Franz Liszt is born, 2) Prince Aleksandr Kurakin, Russian ambassador to France, introduces the practice of serving meals in courses instead of placing many dishes on the table at once, and 3) the Champagne House of Perrier-Jouet is founded in Epernay, France.

The Rest of the Story  

The 1846 vintage of Perrier-Jouet changed the history of champagne. The firm shipped a sample of their natural, UNSWEETENED sparkler to a London wine merchant named Burnes. (At the time all champagne contained a large dose of added sugar, making it a sweet dessert wine.) Burnes felt sweet sparkling wine would never replace port as a dessert wine but if instead it tasted of the grape, it could be enjoyed throughout the meal. "Brut" (low-sugar) champagne was born!

Needless to say, Perrier-Jouet has never lost its touch with BRUT (broot). Some comments:

"powerful structure that explodes on the palate,"

says the Slow Food Wine Guide.

"Their Grand Brut is extremely consistent, with lovely, delicate fruit,"

says the Larousse Encyclopedia of Wine.

So, you MUST try the dry champagne that started it all.

The Wine

Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, Non-Vintage Epernay, France
Service—Two to three hours in the frig before opening. Serve in tall, slender flute glasses to show off the bubbles and concentrate the aromas.
Contact—Ms. Judy Rowcliffe, (707) 255-7667
Price—$34 range


Art Buchwald: I like champagne because it tastes like my foot's asleep.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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