Through some sort of internet miracle, this blog has had more hits today than in its previous six weeks of life combined. Like ten times more. So tonight I’m celebrating–and welcoming new readers!–with a bottle of Beaujolais. Swing by my house and I’ll pour you a glass.
This drop makes its appearance near the beginning of The Crying of Lot 49, and a stylish appearance it is. You’ll forgive me for quoting at length:
That night the lawyer Metzger showed up. He turned out to be so good-looking that Oedipa thought at first They, somebody up there, were putting her on. It had to be an actor. He stood at her door, behind him the oblong pool shimmering silent in a mild diffusion of light from the night-time sky, saying ‘Mrs Maas,’ like a reproach. His enormous eyes, lambent, extravagantly lashed, smiled out at her wickedly; she looked around him for reflectors, microphones, camera cabling, but there was only himself and a debonair bottle of French Beaujolais, which he claimed to’ve smuggled last year into California, this rollicking lawbreaker, past the frontier guards.
Which is for sure the best paragraph of Pynchon I’ve drank through for this blog thus far. I’m wishing I had the resources this evening (pool, really really ridiculously good-looking man) to recreate that snapshot for an actual photo here. But nevermind. Photos of bottles sitting in my kitchen will have to suffice. And I do think I’ve found myself a suitably debonair one! Fit to compete with Metzger’s.
Oh but what is Beaujolais? You’ve gathered so far that it’s wine. My cursory wikipedia research and the bit on the bottle saying “Appellation contrôlée” indicates that it’s specifically wine from the historic Beaujolais province north of Lyon in France (making the ‘French’ in Pynchon’s ‘French Beaujolais’ a bit redundant). Beaujolais winegrowers tend to deal in the Gamay noir grape, which apparently provided relief to village growers after the Black Death by being quick and easy to grow. History, however, was not universally kind to the Gamay grape. In July of 1395, the well-named Phillipe the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, banned Gamay as “a very bad and disloyal plant” supplanting the more honourable Pinot Noir grapes. Anyway, I’ll stop transcribing the Wikipedia article. The gamay obviously staged a comeback sometime in the 620 years since, making it into Lot 49 and down my gullet.
It goes down very pleasantly too. Peppery smelling, very light at first and then with all these nice ripe plums and more of that pepper. Nice stuff. And if anyone can tell me how to say smarter things about wine I’ll be most grateful.