Monday, November 19, 2012

Bon mot for the week

"I'll stick to gin. Champagne is just ginger ale that knows someone."

Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pearce (as played by Alan Alda) in M.A.S.H.

He was, if I recall, turning down the offer of a drink from his snobbish tent-mate Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers). I was reminded of this line when in New York a few months ago (it was on a chalkboard outside a bar), and it once more struck a powerful chord with me. Does anyone really like champagne? Really?? I think we have come to like the rituals of celebration associated with it, that it is an emblem of success and happiness. Many people are also no doubt seduced by the cachet of exclusivity: it's too bloody expensive for the hoipolloi. But, honestly, does anyone like it all that much for itself? Or do you find yourself, like me, sucking down one or two glasses as hastily as possible - just for appearances' sake, just because it's free... - and then looking forward to a real drink?

I am no longer a big fan of wine, and I don't much care for bubbles in a drink (I make an exception for tonic water), and I hate snobbery and affectation, and the brainwashing of branding; so, I have a low susceptibility to champagne. But even within this unappealing category of drinks, I think many cheap sparkling wines taste much pleasanter.

Champagne is just a big French scam! Give me a bottle of Cava any day.

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