Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Wine. (Columns)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Wine. (Columns)

Article excerpt

How the bourgeoisie can savour rewards appropriated by aristocrats

As almost everyone knows, the wines of the Medoc were officially classified in 1855 into five categories, and the classification has remained more or less unaltered. Since 1855, Graves, St Emilion and Pomerol have also been awarded ranks, while to the list of classed growths has been added the long coda of crus bourgeois. Thus the French wine trade perpetuates the leading myth of French culture -- the myth of the bourgeois as the second-class citizen, the dull, small-minded foil to the flamboyant sensibility of the aristocrat and the artist. Wine snobbery has added its force to Flaubert, Sartre and Foucault, in the great effort to make the ordinary Frenchman look small.

This presents us bourgeoisie with a familiar problem. How do we sneak into the upper echelons without looking ridiculous? How do we grab some of the rewards appropriated by the landowning and brain-owning classes, while holding on to our hard-won cash and our attitude of honest self-sufficiency?

I used to know of only one answer to that question, which was to become an Oxbridge don. For two years, I worked day and night at my fellowship dissertation, reading illiterate crap in philosophy journals and drinking excoriating plonk, in order to enjoy, for a brief period, access to the Fellows' Cellar in Peterhouse. For a few shillings more than I had spent on vin ordinaire, I could obtain Chateau Palmer, Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases and Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou -- rewards that almost made up for the privations of college life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.