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The areas I mentioned would all have thousands of vineyards, of varying prestige.
Many are still family-owned, whereas most of the illustrious ones have succumbed to corporate takeovers.
History is hugely important in vineyards; this influences the grapes used, the style of the wine, its marketing strategy etc. Some
European vineyards have been around since the Roman Empire 2,000years ago. It was the Romans who took wine grapes across
the Mediterranean Sea from their origins in the Middle East.
If you wanted to check out some important wine history, look at the home website for the exquisite French wine "Chateaux Margaux",
which is probably the most elegant red wine in the world. Googling "Dom Perignon" would also uncover the story of the pioneer
of French Champagne.
Most continental Europeans would drink wine most days, usually with food, but also for purposes of relaxation. What they drink would
be determined by their location (ie a wine bar or mere cafe), what they were eating (ie matching the food with wine) and their
budget. In the Uk and northern Europe wine would be drink more commonly for relaxation. Most pubs and bars in the UK have
wine lists and many people buy wines from the excellent selection available in supermarkets and high street wine merchants.
The UK is the best place in the world to buy wine. As the UK does not have a large wine industry of its own, it is more receptive to
wines from other places. When I walk in to a wine shop in France, the choice is usually limited to French wines, which is not a
bad thing in itself. But in a UK supermarket, I'm staring at the whole world of wine - Australia, South Africa, Europe, South
America, New Zealand etc.
One of my big challenges on the wine courses in Shanghai is to source a wide enough range of wines to meet the needs of
the course. Hopefully, one of the UK supermarkets will open a branch there soon!