August 8: champagne

I am indifferent to champagne. Its taste does nothing for me and I am unable to differentiate between different types. That’s fine. I am willing to accept that for some people the distinction between various types of champagne is a real nuance, as for me the distintion between types of red wine is. The trouble with champagne is that in many cases it is not the taste people are interested in, it is the sign. When you are drinking champagne you are partaking of a certain lifestyle. I was reminded of this on the Eurostar where British men love to buy overpriced half bottles of champagne as a sign of the good life, the continental life. But fair do’s here too. We are all involved in the life of signs. Sometimes, and indeed more and more frequently in western society, the life of signs is what we’re after. Our brands; our logos. How can our notions of taste remain indifferent to the onslaught of the marketing juggernaught. All we can do, I suppose, is retain a healthy distrust of corporate culture and try to take a pleasure in the colours, the textures, the shapes, the tastes of the world around us. My Britishman had brought his own champagne flutes in his small travelbag for the Eurostar. The pop of the champagne cork was a moment of pleasure. That sound must evoke the nostalgia of so many past moments of pleasure for him and his partner; the settling of the fizzing wine in the glass (he must remember that too); his patriarchial control of the bottle (so masterful) and distribution of the champagne into the glasses. So many cultural moments that reaffirm his identity, his success. With the imbibing of alcohol, his voice takes on more volume, more assurance, too much assurance, and I, meanwhile, am by now happy to absent myself from the compartment.

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