Books and Booze

The Guardian has published an article on what books make you thirsty. This is by Henry Jeffrys who just wrote a whole book on the subject. In his column, he runs through examples by Ernest Hemingway (Farewell to Arms), Patrick Hamilton (Hangover Square) and Graham Greene (almost any).  Then he arrives at Evelyn Waugh:

For Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited, a particularly fine burgundy is a “reminder that the world was an older and better place …” Brideshead might not be Waugh’s best novel but wouldn’t it be fun to drink your way through it? There’s the Clos de Bèze and montrachet from the scene above, plus cognac, vouvray, sauternes – and lashings of claret. It’s not the convivial drinking of Hemingway: instead, Waugh uses wine as a weapon of snobbery. He’s not immune, however, to the lighter side of drink. Take this delicious exchange in Officers and Gentlemen:

“Bertie and Eddie came into the bar, unsteady, rosy and smiling.

‘We’ve been sampling wine all the afternoon.’

‘Eddie’s tight.’

‘We’re both tight as owls.’”

Jeffrys misses the opportunity to identify another batch of unnamed wines from the Brideshead cellars that Charles and Sebastian sample.  One like a gazelle, another like a leprechaun and a third like the last unicorn. Maybe he confronts that issue in his book, Empire of Booze, to be published next year.

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