Byrrh

Byrrh

Byrrh was a French apertif, once very popular. Byrrh is a blend of red wine and quinine or tonic water. Byrrh was created in 1886.

History

Brothers Pallade and Violet Simon, itinerant drapers, decided to take advantage of the wine fever in the region to develop an aperitif wine flavored with cinchona. They mixed dry wines and mistelles. The resulting product was initially thought of as a drug or tonic, and was sold in pharmacies.

With its marketing and reputation as a "hygienic drink," Byrrh sold well in the early twentieth century. It was even exported, despite a name complicating sales. (The word "Byrrh" inevitably evokes "beer" for English and German speakers.)

The Second World War initiated the decline of Byrrh. Aided by tax benefits, natural sweet wines such as banyuls, Muscat de Frontignan and Rivesaltes superseded Byrrh, which went out of fashion. In 1977 the family business, divided by strife, was acquired by Pernod-Ricard.

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