Monday, July 16, 2007

We can trust a president who likes wine! Viva Peres!

What on earth has got into the French? With a teetotaller newly installed in the Elysée Palace, wine consumption falling (soon to lag behind the US, for heaven’s sake) and stickers appearing on bottles warning of the perils of alcohol, it seems a new Gallic puritanism is taking hold. Can this truly be the nation that spawned Rabelais, Rimbaud, Toulouse-Lautrec and Depardieu? Will it be Perrier all round today to celebrate Bastille Day? Sacré bleu! New president Nicolas Sarkozy claims never to touch alcohol, professing to prefer orange juice and jogging to the delights of cru classé claret.
His predecessor, Jacques Chirac, did very well on the gastronomy front, even though his favoured tipple is said to be lager rather than wine. He was famously self-indulgent and spent some €2 million on food and drink (not including official functions) in his last eight years in office.James Nainby-Luxmoore, an English banker who recently returned to live in Paris, agrees that French consumption isn’t what it was. “Drink-driving laws are enforced ruthlessly and have certainly had some effect,” he says. “But restaurant prices are a massive deterrent, too, and I’ve noticed that the French tend to drink much lower quality wines than do the foreigners in their country.”
Years of socialising among the French have brought him to another conclusion: “The French make terrible drunks. They view the English and the Irish as the kings of drunkenness, perhaps with some envy and awe, but are genuinely shocked by the sight of our fairer sex getting trashed. French girls don’t seem to drink at all and it’s pointless getting a French chap drunk, since he won’t fight, sing, laugh or tell ribald stories. He’ll just fall asleep and then throw up.”
With teetotallers in both the Elysée and White House, and dour Mr Brown now at Number 10, there is little point looking to our leaders for signs of joie de vivre. Long gone are the days when a premier such as Winston Churchill led by example, knocking back a daily ration of an Imperial pint (about 50cl) of Pol Roger Champagne. “Clemmie thinks that a full bottle is too much for me, but I know that half a bottle is insufficient to tease my brains,” he said of his wife and his appetite. “An Imperial pint is an ideal size for a man like me; it pleases everyone, even the producer.” ( via Telegraph )

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