In the newest erotic best-selling novel, “Maestra,” there’s a scene featuring Bellinis, but they’re made with Champagne (Veuve Cliquot, in this case) instead of Prosecco, as they were when invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, and now in the rest of the world. Queried about the discrepancy, the author, L.S. Hilton, quipped that in Portofino, where the scene was set, Bellinis are made with Veuve Cliquot, and “nicer than at Harry’s Bar in Venice,” a cute, if unnecessarily snotty, defense of conspicuous consumption: the spirit of Marie Antoinette lives on, obviously, as does the right to ruin good Champagne.
That reminded me of the time I went to an event in Texas during the Republican presidential campaign years ago, where they were serving Krug and Guinness, though not calling them Black Russians, no doubt out of political caution. When we pesky journalists questioned the blend (“Waste of good Champagne!” said one, while the Irishman in the crowd said, “Waste of Guinness!”), a local big spender crowed that they were serving “nothing but the best.” In that case, we replied, we’ll just have the Krug. (The Irishman had his Guinness on the side.)