Nowadays even the Daily Star has a resident wineologist , but until relatively recently the majority of British folk existed in a wine-free world, weddings and Christmases excepted. The holy trinity of Blue Nun, Black Tower and table-lamp-in-waiting favourite Mateus were as posh as it got, but slightly further downmarket were the British wines, or ‘wine-style drinks’ as they were often known, brewed in the UK from – shock horror – imported grape concentrate. Perhaps feeling slightly guilty over this deception, marketing departments poured on the terribly English heritage. Rougemont Castle advertised itself with that old standby, a suit of armour. Country Manor cooked up possibly the worst slogan ever written: ‘So light. So subtle. So buy some’. Playing to a slightly more continentally aware crowd, Concorde promised a bottleful of fun for under a pound. At rock bottom, however, was the grape-free plastic-corked sparkling concoction known as Pomagne, the nine percent proof prize in many a ‘spin the arrow’ local fete tombola which inspired countless teenagers to re-examine their breakfast.
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After SAW yesterday, another Hit Factory under the spotlight here, the Brill Building on Broadway which in the fifties and sixties was the headquarters of virtually every single pop songwriter of the era and was responsible for about 90% of the charts. Neil Sedaka was one of the many big names to have a desk there and in the first of two programmes he reflects on the atmosphere and also ponders on how the fact most of those involved were Jewish was reflected in the output.
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