Friday, May 25, 2007

The many delights of Beaujolais

Some Friday fun. I figured most Not PC readers would enjoy this passage as much as I did, from the novel Clochemerle-Babylon. Try reading it over a lunchtime glass or three of wine.

It is traditional among the Beaujolais wine-growers to open their cellars to visitors, for they are proud of their wine and anxious to see it appreciated. It is a point of honour among them to make their visitors drunk.

The novice has no suspicion. Drawn directly from the wood and drunk at the temperature of the cellar, Beaujolais seems very smooth and safely light. Uncountable are those presumptuous ones who have been obliged to revise this judgement, and that when in postures hardly compatible with the dignity of an investigator.

For the wine of Clochemerle is at once exquisite and treacherous: it charms first the nose, then the palate, finally the entire man. Mark well that if it makes a man drunk it does not do so malignantly. It produces an enchanting light-heartedness, an intellectual sparkle which liberates the drinker from the constraints and conventions which bind him in his daily life. Thus, for example, it may happen that he, the drinker, is brought to declare that he does not give a damn for his wife and the account which he will have to render her of his behaviour; that he does not give a damn for the boss, either, nor for the police, the tax collector, bills, appointments, or, in general, for anyone or anything which might prevent a free citizen from conducting him self in such manner a shall seem to him good and pleasant and
contributing to his touchy, drunkard’s dignity. And such declarations of independence are much enjoyed by the Clochemerlins.

Tourists, caught in this trap, often left the town two or three days late. (For one goes from cellar to cellar to compare the several crus, and in this subterranean life all idea of time is falsified.) The record was established by three unknowns who, having demanded to be served quickly at Torbayon's hotel, remained in Clochemerle ten whole days, in a condition of obstinate felicity. They sent off telegrams in all directions (drafted for them) and that they were delayed by business of the highest importance. The business in question consisted of studying Clochemerle vintages over a period of twenty years; they wanted to be able to identify them with their eyes closed.

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