London, September 27 : A new book on the history of cider entitled 'Ciderland' suggests that Champagne was invented in Somerset, England, not France.
Author James Crowden, 54, contradicts the French belief that the method of secondary fermentation called methode champenoise was invented by a Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon.
The author insists that the credit should actually go to Christopher Merret, the West Country scientist.
Crowden writes that Merret had outlined his method of making sparkling wine in a paper to the Royal Society in 1632, six years before Perignon was born.
The writer, who himself hails from Somerset, believes that the popularity of sparkling wines began when British cider-makers added sugar to acidic French white wine, and then learnt how to control the resulting secondary fermentation.
He says that the sugar caused secondary fermentation in the bottle, which created sparkling wines.
Crowden also reveals that Merrett invented the thick green bottle strong enough to contain the pressure of secondary fermentation.
He says that the problem of unintended fermentation was giving French wine-makers a tough time, as it could cause whole cellars of their fragile bottles to explode.
By learning to control it, according to the writer, they were able to create sparkling wine by design rather than accident.
Crowden will spell out the English connection in a paper to the Royal Society, claiming that the methode champenoise was only refined by the French friar.
"What is extraordinary is that these cider-makers did not realise the potential of their discovery," Times Online quoted him as saying.