Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne brand, Pol Roger, has announced plans to sell its fine wine in pint-sized bottles following Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).
Leaving the union means that Britain will no longer be tied to EU requirements to use metric measurements when selling goods; a benefit of particular appeal to food and drink purveyors who have long argued that British customers prefer traditional imperial weights and measures.
James Simpson, the managing director of Pol Roger UK, said: “It seems that one advantage of escaping Europe is that we can do what we like with bottle sizes,” The Telegraph has reported.
The French company’s board approved the move over the summer, following Britain’s historic vote to leave the EU, meaning that pint-sized champagne bottles will be on the shelves for the first time since 1974, when Britain joined the EU.
Pol Roger has said the champagne could be laid down from the 2016 vintage in pint bottles early next year. This would mean that the pints would be ready for sale at about the time Britain exits the EU, following the mandated renegotiation period.
Warwick Cairns, a spokesman for the British Weights and Measures Association, which campaigns for the return of imperial measures, said: “We see this as a double victory: a victory for common sense, and a victory for international co-operation as it ought to be.
“Drinkers and restaurateurs have long considered the pint bottle to be the perfect size for champagne, but for decades it’s been forbidden under EU legislation.
“So we’re incredibly excited by the fact even though that legislation is still in place, Britain’s oldest wine merchant and one of France’s most respected champagne producers are finally pushing ahead and producing it anyway. We’ll raise a glass to entente cordiale.”
Mr. Simpson said it was likely that several thousand bottles would be produced at first, to test demand for the new product.
Pol Roger, one of the oldest champagne makers and one of the few still family owned, produces around 1.5 million bottles each year from its vineyards in northern France, most of which are sold in 0.75 litre bottles.
The news was welcomed by Simon Berry, chairman of London wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, one of Britain’s oldest wine merchants. He said he has been trying for years to persuade French champagne makers to offer their products in pint-sized bottles, but has been told that it is against EU laws.
“One producer even told me that the French would never favour a format that was named after the British Empire,” he wrote.
“It had never occurred to me that we had the exclusive rights to matters Empirical. Name it after the Napoleonic Empire, the Third Empire, the Empire Leicester Square for all I care. Just let us have the bloody bottle.”
He said he has “fantasised about the return of the pint” of champagne for decades – said to be Churchill’s favourite bottle size – adding “now we are no longer beholden to Brussels” we can once again “drink our champagne from God’s own bottle size”.
A pint of champagne was “such a perfect sized bottle,” Mr. Berry said. “You get four proper sized glasses from it – as opposed to six from a bottle, or three from a half-bottle.
“Champagne is designed to be shared, preferably with one other person. Six glasses between two is – if you’re carrying on to another bottle with dinner – too much.
“However three glasses are certainly too little to share between two people – one for me, one for you, and a dribble for us both to finish with? That’s just mean, and the one thing you should never associate with Champagne is meanness.”