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A satirical take on the pedantic and pretentious wine taster

French satirical magazine Le Crapouillot 1968

First, a reminder: The "best Champagne of all" is the Champagne that YOU and YOURS prefer. It is the Champagne made by your favourite marque and since you know what you like, there is simply no other brand for you.
So keep that in mind the next time anybody tries to spoil your fun by telling you "they know more" about tasting than you do. To all such killjoys, we have only this to say: read the text below, which remains as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1968.

How funny they look, little finger poised in the air as they hold forth to the wine waiter or dip their thermometer into the glass, as intent on their doings as my cat in its litter box.

You can’t help but listen. This is a wine with legs, they say, with a peacock’s tail of flavours that runs the gamut from burnt sugar to candied prunes, passing through cinnamon, pepper, faded roses, cedar, oak, apricot and peaches. As if what they had in their mouth were not wine but a grocery store or an orchard.

All joking aside, such people are insufferable. They spoil everybody’s fun — mine and yours. They take all the pleasure out of eating and drinking. Far be it from me to deny the right (and even the duty) of oenologists to talk shop, but please, let it be strictly among themselves. No-one at the dinner table wants to hear about carbonic maceration, noble rot, malo-lactic fermentation or any other kind of fermentation for that matter.

Table talk is essentially about banter — entertaining anecdotes, juicy gossip, that sort of thing.
No one ever tumbled a pretty girl by asking for her parent’s address or whether her grandmother had high cholesterol.
When drinking a good bottle of wine, I’m not interested in knowing the age of the winegrower or the name of the varietal. Even less what our pedant thinks of it!
At a pinch you might even say that I agree with this facetious bon mot from Guy Charles Cros:
"Wine is a red liquid.
Except in the morning when it is white ..."

The only other thing you need to know is that there are good wines and bad wines — mostly bad, sad to say.
No amount of affectation will ever change that.

Le Crapouillot 1968
Haut le Pomponne by Georges PRADE
Food and wine writer
Commandeur de l’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne (1968=>1992)

You can tell by the way I walk into the Crapouillot, glass (or rather POMPONNE (1)) held high, that I have no intention of blinding you with science. Far be it from me to teach you about the geography or the technicalities of wine. The political economy of Champagne is not my thing, neither are its academic credentials. I am simply here to tell you why I like it and how I drink it.

People who try to embarrass me by asking what I think is the best brand of Champagne get only one answer: "The best brand of Champagne is the one you like the best". It is the one that suits your particular taste, the one you prefer above all others. Left to themselves, even the movers and shakers of the Champagne world instinctively reach for their preferred brand. No matter how many gifts they may have received from rival producers. What we are actually seeing here is the triumph of modernism over traditionalism: popping a Champagne cork is simply no big deal anymore. Young, crisp Champagne wines are on the rise, and the younger and sprightlier the better.


Le Crapouillot issue n° 5 - winter 1968