Talking Pints

Following Brexit there was a lot of excitement in the UK about the possible return of the pint bottle of champagne. Apparently, this size of bottle was much beloved of Winston Churchill, and so for reasons to do with winning the War (?) it was important that the pint bottle return.

The claim had become widespread before Brexit that the pint bottle had been banned by metrification and the diabolical Brussels bureaucrats. Of course, it was all nonsense. Pint bottles of cider, for example, are widely available under European law.

It’s because of regulation and standardisation. Just not in the way that you might think.

The 750 ml bottle is now almost the global standard. However, in the past in France (and indeed Europe) non-standard bottle sizes were common.

Over time the variations reduced to the few that remain today in your local Auchan, Lidl or Kaufland. But why are Britons forced to drink the continental 750 ml and not a true British pint of champers?

Actually, the 750 ml is British, or at least “for Britain”. Dealing with all those irregular wine bottle sizes, and an irregular number of bottles to the case, was an irritant to the wine merchants and wholesalers of London in centuries gone by.

Range of different Champagne bottles sizes at Pol Roger, Épernay.
750 ml was the standard set in France to facilitate exports to … Britain.

Wooden cases containing six bottles of wine
Why? The six bottles amounted to… one imperial gallon.
Chart of top wine-drinking countries with USA top, then France, Italy, Germany, China, UK, Spain, Russia, Argentina and Australia

Post Brexit Britain is somewhat in the same position

Policymakers in the UK have to adjust to the reality of no longer setting international standards. The UK no longer offers markets of bulk. Nor does it have recognised high standards that others are keen to adopt.

Yet many Brexiteers, and some in the Labour Party, seem to have difficulty in adjusting to the UK’s new place in the world.

Man dressed in union jack suit, hat and glasses
Image credit: Camilo Rueda López via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Look at Gina Miller’s position on Rejoining EU

We leave you with a punk rock song about the difficulty of ordering two pints of lager and a packet of crisps – based on Max Spodge’s difficulty in being heard at the Tramshed in Woolwich – it was impossible to procure said 568 ml of light ale in the 1980’s … Splodgenessabounds were an oi band which the editor played with in days of yore … I doubt Max had foreseen the problems of Brexit, but just as a soft landing for this article …

Talking Pints …