If I’m having a drink on a typical day, I’ll probably spring for a martini. On a tough one, give me a bourbon on the rocks. But when I’m feeling fancy, it’s always Champagne. Oscar Wilde must have been feeling fancy all the time.
It’s not a big surprise that one of the most famous dandies of literature had a serious Champagne fetish. But the lengths to which Wilde went to get his fix takes bubbly worship to a whole new level. At the best of times, there were elaborate champagne dinners … and pre-dinners and post-dinners; Wilde ordered his staff to serve champagne “at intervals” throughout the day. And at the worst of times – after being imprisoned for charges of indecency and sodomy – Wilde made the most of things by ordering cases of his favorite vintage, an 1874 Perrier-Jouët, straight to his cell. It even came up in the courtroom, according to the transcripts of his trial:
Mr. Oscar Wilde: Yes; iced champagne is a favourite drink of mine–strongly against my doctor’s orders.
Mr. Edward Carson, QC: Never mind your doctor’s orders, sir!
Mr. Oscar Wilde: I never do
Wilde’s taste for Champagne has become so legendary that it threatens to outstrip the truth. In a famous anecdote, Wilde was elegant until the very end, ordering champagne to his deathbed and sighing, “Alas, I am dying beyond my means.” But other accounts are a little less romantic – turns out, he may have just been thinking about his hospital bill.
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