Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Attention to Detail

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Attention to Detail

Article excerpt

Byline: By Bill Oldfield

Some things are so outside your everyday experiences that when you do come across them you just can't assimilate them.

Take, for example, some of the mind-boggling facts that come from studies of science.

I've been reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything (super stuff, a sort of comprehensive rough guide to science) which includes the brain-bending information that the known, or visible, universe is a million million million million (that's 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) miles across. So that's useful everyday information, then.

He then goes on to say commonly-accepted theories suggest the wider, meta-universe is much, much bigger still. But if I can't grasp a 1 followed by 24 zeros, what does bigger mean?

Then you go down from macro to micro level. Bryson tells us a proton is an infinitesimal part of an atom and that the dot on this letter `i' can hold about 500,000,000,000 of them. Hmm.

So you'd think an ancient practice such as wine making would not hold facts so difficult to grasp. Now I'm not going to start treading on our resident wine expert's toes. Helen Savage is the fount of all things to do with wine in The Journal. But on a recent trip to the Champagne region with our wine merchants, Corney and Barrow, we visited, among others, the Champagne house of Moet & Chandon.

Champagne production is fascinating and steeped in tradition and history and I'd recommend a trip to the region as an education, if nothing else. After the initial fermentation, champagne is stored in its bottles for some years to allow the minute amount of sediment in it to settle out. This has to be done at a constant temperature and the chalky ground of the region around Reims and Epernay is ideal for building cellars in which to keep the wine just right.

I knew Moet & Chandon was a big company but I nearly fell over when they told us they had 18 miles of cellars on three levels in which to store their liquid gold. …

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