I confess, quaffing a Lynch-Bages or a snifter of Hennessy, I have wondered how it is that such fine upstanding Irish names come to be associated with cognac and claret. There my wonderings ended, until a recent visit to Ireland, where, in Cork and Kinsale, I found answers. Starting in the 17th century an intrepid band of Irish emigrants set out first for France, then the rest of Europe, and ultimately almost anywhere wines are made. And almost everywhere they went, the Irish diaspora had an impact on wine-making that belies the idea that the Irish know only about beers.
The story is a complex one, built on tarriff wars, free trade and political union, with a touch of religious persecution thrown in for good measure.