What’s in a name?

English Sparkling Wine is fabulous, but the name is clunky and inelegant. The Spectator has just run a competition to try and find something better. As one of the judges I braced myself for an onslaught of the inevitable Fizzy McFizz Face (tick), and post-Brexit ‘perfizzious Albion’. In the event, there was a deluge of fun and clever suggestions and I was fascinated by how the fizzerati think.

For starters, there were lots of French derivatives or comparisons with Champagne – ‘ShamPain’, ‘Cru Anglais’, ‘Cuvée Anglaise’, ‘Anglais bolle’, ‘Cremant Bretagne’, ‘éblouissant’, and the magnificent ‘Channel’ – but as it is English, a more anglicised name was appropriate.

Other suggestions challenged my Roman and Anglo-Saxon knowledge. Did you know that ‘Maxima’ from ‘Maxima Caesariensis’ refers to South East England? Or that ‘Britannia prima’ covers our primary wine-growing regions? These names are learned, but don’t really resonate with the public. ‘Vinbulla’ – created from Vinum for Wine, Bulla for Bubble (geddit?) – was clever, but also sounded like a medical condition. Anglo-saxon suggestions included ‘Spearclen’ (Middle English for ‘sparkling’), ‘Sparkleng’, ‘Sparkeng’, or ‘Fizzeng’ but risked looking like misprints. ‘Saxone’ was a good name, but didn’t really relate to fizz.

The most frequent suggestion was ‘Britpop’, with ‘Brit Fizz’ and ‘Brubbles’ also featuring. This is tricky. ‘British Wine’ – in contrast to English or Welsh Wine – is made from imported grapes or juice and I personally consider it to be significantly inferior to fine fizz. A reference to ‘British’ therefore risks confusion. We liked ‘Albion’ and ‘Albionoise’, but were conscious that it excludes Welsh Wine, and that would be wrong. Sadly we then also had to wave goodbye to ‘Anglofizz’ and the heavenly ‘Anglosia’.

Some suggested names were out of bounds because they have already been trademarked and so are not available for generic use. We had to reject ‘Merrett’ (who was the first to record adding sugar to prompt bubble production in 1662), and ‘Britagne’.

Various eponyms were proposed: ‘Kitchener’, ‘Boudica’, ‘Asquith’ (is this because it might make you Asquiffy?), ‘Boudica’, ‘Farage’ and ‘Godwine’ which had me tittering for hours.

Inevitably the more humorous ones appealed to me: the regal ‘Lizfizz’ and ‘Cork Blimey!’ are fabulous. I had to disqualify ‘Magna Cava’ because the suggestion came from my son.

Given our long history of successful three-letter drink names (Rum, Gin) I was attracted to ‘Fiz’. Its short, snappy. easy to pronounce, sounds like bubbles and the distinctive spelling creates a distinctive brand. In the end, we chose something suitably dignified: Britannia. Let’s hope it rules!

Read the brilliant Jonathan Ray, drinks editor of the Spectator, for his thoughts: http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/english-sparkling-wine-competition-results/