CLEVER LOVERS NEVER DRINK CHAMPAGNE

Champagne: it is drunk at a reasonably cool temperature of between 45° and 54° F (7° and 12° C). Anything more would destroy the freshness, the development of the froth, the tingling of the carbonic acid. Women drink it with restraint, in small sips, their palates and tastebuds rapt with anticipation. "Champagne: Drunkenness must seize the guests in the moment when the corks pop; one is beside oneself," noted Gustave Flaubert somewhere between blood pudding and nostrils in his Dictionary of Platitudes. In fact one should already be beside oneself upon opening the bottle. The impudent drink it with soup and liver sausage, but the esprit of champagne refers to the best, the refined, to the light and the elegant, not to the heavy, the fatty and the coarse. Neither does it point to great depth of spirit. Opponents of immoderate consumption drink champagne at every moment of the day or night. And in all situations. Directors' secretaries sip from the champagne glass in order the better to find the typewriter keys. Kings and the nobility have always drunk it, as have playboys on their yachts on the Côte d'Azur. "The wine of Champagne allows our soldiers to forget their exertions for a few hours while our generals forget their doubts," was the verdict of Baron Fain during a visit by Napoleon in March 1814 to Épernay on the military significance of this mood enhancer. Winston Churchill later asserted that in victory we deserve it, whereas in defeat we need it and favored Pol Roger; Konrad Adenauer looked to the West and toasted Charles de Gaulle with a glass of Krug. In the red light districts of New Orleans and Hamburg, where it is used to help frustrated businessmen work up a sweat, champagne is appropriately called hooker diesel. Two glasses and the manufacturer of pineapple cans becomes an adventurer, the tax investigator becomes an erotic werewolf and the stock market specialist with the Chicago prices for potato futures in his head turns into the shrewd conversationalist. Freethinkers, people who are at odds with themselves and nighthawks drink champagne out of passion. Extreme right-wing policemen and anonymous alcoholics never do.

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