First skim the passage to get the general gist (idea) of each paragraph. To do this, read the first and last sentence of the paragraph and identify key words/names/dates. Try to not take longer than 4 minutes to skim the whole text. When you finish skimming, complete the tasks found below.
The Origins of Champagne
II. Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux, which was apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers and almost 40 years before it was claimed that the famed Benedictine monk invented Champagne. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which he detailed what is now called méthode champenoise, in 1662. Merret’s discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers’ technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength. As early as 1663 the poet Samuel Butler referred to “brisk champagne”.
III. In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850. In 2007, Champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles.
IV. In the 19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today. The trend towards drier Champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage prior to exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876.
- Familiarise yourself with the list of headings.
- Look for and underline keywords/phrases in each heading. As you do this think of synonyms for the key words. Be careful of headings that seem similar. Think about what makes them different.
- Skim over the passage to get the overall gist of each paragraph and match the headings to the paragraphs as you read. Reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph should help you to do this. Don’t get stuck on words that you don’t understand, this type of task is about the general meaning.
- In the test, write you answers on your answer paper straight away. You will not receive any extra time to transfer your answers.
‘Early history’ helps us identify the paragraph. Since the text is arranged from the earliest times (5th century) to the modern day, it is easy to identify this heading with the first paragraph.
‘Dispelling myths’ means to correct popular ideas that are wrong.
At the start of paragraph 2 we read ‘Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine…’
‘Contrary’ means in disagreement with so this sentence is an example of dispelling a myth. In this case, the myth is that Dom Pérignon invented sparkling wine.
This is an example of why it is good to have a wide vocabulary for the IELTS test. Remember to learn, write and use 10 – 15 new words every week!
When skimming the text before you looked at the questions, you should have noticed that paragraph 3 includes the dates 1844 and 2007. This gives us a clue that this paragraph contains information about the way Champagne changed from the past up to the modern day.
‘Sour’ is the opposite to ‘sweet’, while ‘turn’ here means ‘change’. In paragraph IV we read that ‘19th century Champagne was noticeably sweeter than the Champagnes of today’, meaning that modern Champagnes are sourer than Champagnes of the past.
We hope you liked today’s lesson. Please leave your comments and questions below.
When you are ready, we can begin Reading Practice 7 | Flow Charts and Vocabulary
Check out our other free reading exercises:
Reading Practice 1 – Short answer questions and headings
Reading Practice 2 – Matching sentence endings
Reading Practice 3 – Matching headings and sentence completion
Reading Practice 4 – True / False / Not Given questions
Reading Practice 5 – Summary and Sentence Completion, T / F / NG questions