It is said Winston Churchill preferred his champagne in pint bottles. Now there is a proposal to bring them back. Ronnie Cohen comments.
Some popular media sources have run reports about the possible return of pint-sized bottles of champagne. According to the Champagne & Ardenne website (source: https://www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk/discover/tasting-champagne/secrets-champagne/champagne-bottle-sizes), champagne producers offer the following bottle sizes:
- 20 cl
- 37.5 cl
- 75 cl
- 1.5 L
- 3 L
- 6 L
- 9 L
- 12 L
- 15 L
- 18 L
- 26.25 L
- 27 L
- 30 L
The two smallest sizes (20 cl and 37.5 cl) are most likely to be found on planes, in restaurants and in wine cellars. The most common sizes that are sold commercially are the next three sizes (75 cl, 1.5 L and 3 L). Bigger sizes are less common. Some of these bigger sizes are made to order.
The government is considering making a pint-sized champagne bottle legal. The pint size (i.e. 568 ml) is an odd addition to the existing sizes. There is one main problem with this proposal: the French produce and bottle champagne. I cannot see the French producing pint-sized bottles just for the British market. Why would they invest in new bottling equipment just to please Britain’s Leavers? Why would any foreign champagne producer devote time, space and money to this?
We can already find pints of milk, beer and cider on sale in UK supermarkets as I mentioned in my previous MV articles, which you can find here:
This proposal would extend the measurement muddle of milk, beer and cider to wine and champagne. Pubs serve draught beer and cider in pints but cans and bottles of beer and cider in standard metric sizes.
Some of the pro-Brexit media has described it as a Brexit dividend (i.e. benefit). What kind of benefit is it that makes it harder to make value-for-money comparisons and obscure price transparency? It doesn’t sound like a benefit to me. Some parts of the media are promoting pints for more beverages and pounds and ounces for fruit and vegetables as benefits of Brexit. Benefits for whom? Certainly not consumers. As Metric Views has said before in other articles, the use of multiple measurement systems for trade does not benefit consumers. On the contrary, it works against consumers’ interests.
Is the introduction of a new bottle size for champagne and the reintroduction of pounds and ounces in small shops and market stalls the best pro-Brexit arguments that Leavers and their friends in the media can come up with? Is that it?
I don’t recall any Leave campaigner telling the public to vote for Brexit to bring back champagne in pint bottles. As I argued in a previous MV article, many issues were raised in debates about UK membership of the EU in the referendum campaign. However, metrication was not one of them (see https://metricviews.uk/2016/06/09/metrication-not-an-issue-in-eu-referendum/).
Is this a distraction from Brexit problems such as disputes about the Northern Ireland protocol, fishing, border delays, new customs paperwork and other Brexit-related issues? Why are they talking about bringing back pint bottles of champagne when there are so many more pressing issues to deal with such as the COVID pandemic, the increase in the cost of living and NHS waiting lists?
This has one thing in common with plans to permit the use of pounds and ounces for the sale of fruit and vegetables. They are about isolationism, exceptionalism, nostalgia and a desire to return to the past.