Look at a bottle of wine, and odds are that the label says it’s Chateau something-or-other. And most people would have you believe that’s because the vineyard that produced the wine is in the grounds of a chateau – a country house.
A new theory suggests otherwise. Look at the word chateau. It’s actually two words, chat (meaning cat) and eau (water). That’s right, chateau actually means cat-water. Because, believe it or not, wine was made exclusively for cats for a long time. Such rarified creatures deserved a special drink of their own, and wine is what the French came up with. Helps explain why cats can doze for so long as well, if that’s what they’ve been drinking.
Chateau Lafite then, was made for a cat called Lafite. Jacques Lafite, to give the charmer his full name. And back in the days of the French Revolution, it’s Lafite we have to thank for prompting Marie Antoinette to say to radicals not just ‘Let them eat cake’, but also ‘Let them drink cat-water’. Unfortunately, they drank rather more than Marie Antoinette had in mind, which explains the outcome of the Revolution.