Mid-week Distractions 5/3/23: Fancy French Wine and Fancier French Pets

White cat

Last week, I started watching the new Apple TV drama, Drops of God. The show is set in various locations in France and Tokyo, and the dialogue is in French, English, and Japanese. (It’s based on a popular manga.) The show follows two scrappy young wine experts duking it out to win the inheritance of a deceased wine industry legend.

In an early scene, one of the two competitors, Issei, has a conversation with a well-to-do young woman who accuses him of “sniffing around like a dog” (referring to his ability to identify wine while blindfolded), and asks why he would bother training for such a skill when “the name of the wine is on the label.”

In recent months, I have written a lot about wine and spirits across a variety of publications, and people often assume that I am something of an expert in wine. This is something I never fail to find hilarious. Sure, I’ve picked up some things along the way. I know that Champagne pairs incredibly well with fried chicken (bizarre, but true). And that while yellow wine, white wine, and orange wine look similar, they taste nothing alike. But I’ve never felt more like two kids in a trench coat than I do when asking a wine grower or vintner about what yeast they use for fermentation, or how the climate off the southern coast of Argentina in the third week of January affects the notes of tobacco and elderberry in their glou-glou pét-nat.

Moreover, the tiny Marxist inside me maintains something of a stuck up nose about oenology as a hyper-fixation for the bourgeoisie. After all, is it really a career or an education that anyone needs? Sure, I might like to know how to make a little moonshine at the off-the-grid compound my friends and I are planning on building in advance of the inevitable collapse of Western society, but will I need to sniff out the difference between a Petit Syrah and a Chardonnay? Not when the zombies come, that’s for sure.

That being said… I do enjoy good wine. “I heard a few of [the young people] moaning about the rich,” Connor Roy quipped on a recent episode of Succession, while sailing his wedding party into the sea on his massive yacht. He earns the quick response: “Yes, well, they don’t mind the taste of your Champagne.” Look, I won’t pretend I don’t feel similarly hypocritical when a lovely PR person sends me a $145 bottle of limited release South African bubbly. (After all, if I’m going to eat the rich, I hear they pair well with a nice Chenin Blanc.)

However, there’s always something to be said for the appreciation of taste, and of the craft that goes into it. Call me a well-intentioned hypocrite.

So where do we draw the line at what is useful enough to be considered a legitimate hobby, passion, career, or education? Is it enough for something to simply bring you joy, or do you need to justify it to make yourself feel better? Even if you love wine, when it gets into the collector’s items or rare vintages, where does quality stop and capitalism take over? I’m not sure I have the answer. But it’s definitely worth pondering over a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a few episodes of Drops of God.

In fashion news…

Speaking of fine lines between capitalism and art, Monday was the Met Gala, which was Karl Lagerfeld-themed and featured a ton of campy French couture. Check out our coverage.

Things I found on the internet…

A few weeks ago I included the trilingual song “Nasty” by Zeina in my newsletter, comparing it to similar tunes from Saint Levant, who also sings in French, English, and Arabic. So I’m honestly not so surprised that Saint Levant recently featured on a remix of “Nasty.” Looks like these two polyglots have finally met their match.

Major tourist in Paris fails. Some 1960s French new wave aesthetics. A little French trivia about Leonardo da Vinci.

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