Downton Abbey plans on entering into Real Housewives territory by giving its name to a licensed wine range. But the wine makers are aiming for a little more highbrow appeal. That's despite the company name of Wines That Rock, probably best known for making branded wines for the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Pink Floyd.
So would the Crawleys drink this stuff? The press release is careful the emphasize the old-timey quality of the large French vineyard behind the wine line: Dulong Grand Vins de Bordeaux, claiming that they'll be able to "recreate the rich Bordeaux wines imported by the British aristocracy from France in the early 1900s....[with] grapes grown on the same vines and from the same soil as those from wines in the era depicted in Downton Abbey."
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Downton, at the very least, does make the case for serving a lot of different wines over the course of a dinner. Here's Anna, explaining:
“Mr. Carson likes to serve two white wines, which you should open and decant just before they eat. A light one for the hors d’oeuvres, then a heavy one with the soup. Keep that going for the fish, and then change to the Claret, which you should really decant now. There’s a pudding wine, and after that whatever they want in the drawing room with their coffee.”
So unsurprisingly, the drinking-friendly show featuring lavish, wine-filled dinner scenes has inspired some previous investigation into the beverage tastes of early 20th century British aristocrats. And while the U.S. and Canadian audiences for the Downton wine may assume a certain inherent prestige in French wine, Claret, or red Bordeaux, was still recovering in reputation (thought not necessarily quality) from a grape vine blight that hit the region hard in the late 19th century. Even by the 1920's, the market for French wine was still unstable thanks in part to overproduction of cheap wine. Some have suggested that actual Downton dinner parties would have featured Champagne, or German white wines, instead, as all were much more fashionable at the time.