It's Felix Kir's birthday
Felix Kir led quite a life. He was a French priest at the outbreak of the Second World War, though when he heard that the German army had infiltrated his town, and was stealing its wine, he was anything but holy! He started a resistance group which de-railed the trains transporting the Germans and the stolen wine, and saved the town’s livelihood.
Kir went on to become the Mayor of Dijon from 1945 until his death (aged 92) in 1968. At local functions he'd always serve Kirs made from Crème de Cassis de Dijon and Bougogne Aligoté, a local white wine.
We thought that seeing as it was Felix Kir's birthday today, then we'd mix a Kir Royale, which uses bubbley instead of white wine, just to make things a little more celebratory...! Felix's original Kir, made with Bougogne Aligoté is a great drink with a fascinating story.
Today is also St Vincent's Day
We are not normally religiously minded round here, but when it comes to the patron saint of wine makers (not to mention vine dressers, vine growers and all things grape-y) we like to make an exception. So Happy Saints Day, Saint Vincent of Saragossa!
Born in France, St. Vincent became Deacon of Saragossa in Aragon, Spain, under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Like many martyrs of the time, he was tortured hideously (with the era's equivalent of a toasting fork), then thrown into the sea, where his remains were cast up on a promontory now known as Cape St. Vincent.
Quite how this prepared him to protect the vintners of this world, we do not know. But we do know that the USB Cocktail makes a drink so spiritual it is virtually a sacrament. It is based on the products of two of Saint Vincent's faves: Ugni (the Cognac grape) and Sauvignon Blanc. Cheers!
On 22 January 1964, the Christmas classic Zulu hit screens for the first time, reenacting the Battle of Rorke's Drift, launching Michael Caine's movie career, and inspiring the Battle of Helm's Deep sequence in the Lord of the Rings.
Weirdly, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who played his own grandfather, King Cetshwayo, in the movie, would go on to a career governing the new South Africa.
Today is not only the anniversary of the movie but the anniversary of the battle it recreated, in 1879. After invading Zululand to try and unify South Africa under British control, over a thousand British soldiers were wiped out at Isandlwana. The tale of the plucky 140 who fought back against a Zulu attack at Rorke's Drift on the same day became legendary largely for PR purposes - at the time, it seemed unimaginable that "savages" could defeat the white man, although of course they had.