Waughs on Champagne

An online magazine (Alderman Lushington) devoted to drinks and drinking has published an article entitled “Drinking like James Bond: Casino Royale. Champagne and swagger.” In it, they quote Auberon Waugh who in turn quotes his father on the proper time for drinking champagne:

The last thing he [Evelyn Waugh] wrote about wine appeared in the New York Vogue in the year before he died. It dealt with Champagne, and described the circumstances in which it should be drunk: ‘For two intimates, lovers or comrades, to spend a quiet evening with a magnum, drinking no aperitif before, nothing but a glass of Cognac after—that is the ideal … The worst time is that dictated by convention, in a crowd, in the early afternoon, at a wedding reception.’ That comment strikes me as profoundly true. Immense harm is done to Champagne by the English habit of drinking it, usually warm and in a sort of trifle dish, at weddings in the early afternoon. That is why so many people in England claim to dislike Champagne.

The quote from Auberon is not sourced but may come from The Entertaining Book (1986) which he wrote with his wife Teresa. The quote from Evelyn comes from the 1965 Vogue article “Fizz, Bubbly, Pop” reprinted in Essays, Articles and Reviews, p. 635. Evelyn goes on to advise that drinking champagne “at midnight with a light supper, then too…is excellent.” In addition, he warns that champagne, like cheese

smells…and like cheese should be taken on a full stomach. To enter a house at seven, when it is full of people who have eaten nothing for some hours, who have drunk champagne and are obliged by noise and press to shout into one another’s faces, makes one long for the wholesome, gross reek of rum grog.

Evelyn explains at the beginning the Vogue article that he learned these lessons relatively late in life when he made a visit to Rheims after the war and was offered a tutorial on the history of champagne and its production process.


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