Cheap Claret

Claret first enters the etymological record as a British nickname for Bordeaux red in 1700, not too long before Mason & Dixon gets started. The slang would then have been sixty-some years in use when first appears in M&D on page 192, with Mason in an English pub called the George distracting himself from the death of former Astronomer Royal Bradley with…

Mavrodaphne

One spring late in Against the Day, Auberon Halfcourt and Umeki Tsurigane find Yashmeen, Reef, and baby Ljubica on the Greek island of Corfu. They dine “in a taverna down by the harbour in Garitsa.” Page 975: They sat at a long table and ate tsingarelli and polenta and yaprakia and a chicken stoufado with…

Mâconnais

“It’s like licking a bloody piece of slate tile” quoth my father post-quaff of this Mâconnais. He seemed to intend this as a compliment. The Mâconnais is a Southern chunk of the Burgundy wine region, known for producing value-for-money Chardonnay. This bottle (Louis Latour Les Deux Moulins Saint-Véran) did indeed seem reasonably cheap for fancy-sounding Burgundy under a a classy-looking label. Whether it…

Gewurztraminer

We’ve just about hit 50 Empty Bottles here at Tom Pynchon’s Liquor Cabinet, but this post marks our first occasion revisiting a passage to pull out a second drink. November last year, Against the Day led me to some apricot brandy abandoned in a safe-house cupboard. (I remarked at the time that it was a bit rough, and I…

Veuve Clicquot Brut

Season two of the Pynchon in Public podcast‘s trek through Gravity’s Rainbow is a wrap! Watch your iTunes feeds. I popped some Champagne on the air this morning in celebration. You may notice the Champagne is pictured above in a beer mug. In this, as in the choice of the specific Champagne house, I follow the good example…

Dão wine

Fleetwood Vibe, most mysterious son of that sinister household, recalls on page 168 his travels in Mozambique—then a colony of Portugal: Debarking at Lourenço Marques, he spent a week in various local cantinhas, gathering information, as he liked to think of it. This required a tidy lakeful of Portuguese colonial-market wine, the rotgut rejectamenta of Bucelas and Dão,…

Merry Christmas! (Pink Champagne)

A very merry Christmas to Pynchonites and friends the world over. I hear it’s a warm one for you Northern Hemisphere folks. Down here in Australia, we’ve enjoyed a relatively cool 33 °C (91 of your funny Fahrenheit degrees). Admittedly not eggnog weather. But this pink Champagne went down a treat. It’s Moutard Père et Fils Rosé Champagne. The presentable bubbles come…

Montepulciano

Drunk Pynchonette and I ordered a couple of (enormous) glasses of this last night then only realised halfway through ’em that the name’s familiar ring owed itself not to my comprehensive knowledge of Italian viticulture but to Pynchon’s most alcoholic of opuses, Against the Day. So it was camera out, non-Instgramming restraint and decency away, and time for…

Primitivo

I finished Against the Day more than two months ago now. Or that’s when I read the last page anyway–who really ever finishes a Pynchon book. Drinking through it is sure going to take a while. The list is longer than for V, Gravity’s Rainbow, and Mason & Dixon combined. And it’s fun stuff, distillations of many of the books…

Schloss Vollrads

Does anyone have a time machine handy? Some of these drinks are getting tricky to pull off stuck in 2014. Peach brandy, for example, seems to be the liquor of the moment in the 18th century of Mason & Dixon, but it’s a lot harder to come across now. The Mt Vernon estate made a special batch of the…

Gallo wine with ice

After a couple of moody European spirits (oude jenever and absinthe), it seems about time we have something more frivolous. This one definitely fits that bill. It’s pink and light and sweet and totally without bite. At the start of Chapter Six of V., Profane’s just finished his first day (or actually, night) of alligator hunting in the sewers…

Madeira

I stepped off my bus this afternoon halfway through Mason & Dixon‘s last chapter. No way could I have gone home and socialised with people at that point. I sat down on the first available bench and finished it. The thing is though, finishing M&D in public isn’t exactly like finishing Lot 49 or Gravity’s Rainbow or any of the other…