T-minus two hours-ish until Downton Abbey graces the screens of PBS viewers across the nation once more and here I sit, sipping a gorgeous Blackberry Wine from Buckingham Valley Vineyards.
It seemed only appropriate to pull something sweet and dark for the occasion. Apparently the series that homages the dusk of the British Empire has inspired a call for more than one sweet after dinner drink. According to WinesfromSpain.com the airing of Downton Abbey has inspired a 15% increase in sherry sales across London. Ironically, the spike in sherry sales has also been impacted by the opening of bars devoted to the sweet stuff. With names like "Capote y Toros" the bars are influenced by those of a similar nature in Andalucia, Spain, the birthplace of the sweet stuff. Not quite as popular in Jersey, Renault Winery is the only one I know of that has a sherry in their list.
The wine of Downton, however, is most likely claret - "a now uncommon dark rose" that once was the most common wine exported from the Bordeaux region of France. Originally a spiced red wine, claret eventually became an unspiced, dry dark red Bordeaux associated with the British upper class. Today, French wine makers are looking to re-fashion claret as a light, sweet, fruity wine akin to its Plantagenet roots. When it comes to Jersey, Tomasello Winery offers an American Claret, a semi-dry red table wine.
During the Downton era, wine was a commodity of the rich. Today, thanks to the prevalence of local wineries and the renaissance of the American wine-making industry (which has struggled to make a comeback since the repeal of Prohibition) wine is becoming as popular at middle class dinner tables as it once was in the great halls of now-defunct castles. Perhaps, therein lies one of the greatest appeals of Downton Abbey is the understanding that we, too, can live like royalty - at a fraction of the price.