Champagne and James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Bollinger and Dom Perignon

champagne james bond bedJames Bond was one of the first action heroes to make wine connoisseurship seem masculine and sexy. (Most of he-man flicks don’t lend themselves to the quiet reflection of wine: try to imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger sipping a silky burgundy to relax after an extended car chase.)

In the Bond flick, Die Another Day, 007 is freed after fourteen months of torture in a North Korean prison. The first thing he wants? A shave and a bottle of 1961 Bollinger. In GoldenEye (1995), a female psychiatrist bollinger-james-bondasks him what he does to relax. Bond presses a button on the dashboard of his Aston Martin, revealing a refrigerated compartment with a bottle of 1988 Bollinger Grande Année and two flute glasses.

Even in combat, Bond can’t resist showing off his connoisseurship: Using a bottle as a weapon in Dr. No (1962), 007 pauses when the villain points out: “It’s a Dom Perignon ‘55. It would be a pity to break it.” Bond snaps back, “I prefer the ’53 myself,” and gives him a good thump on the head.

In Goldfinger (1964),  in bed with his latest amour, Bond reaches over to feel a bottle of 1953 Dom Perignon, and observes, “Oh, it’s lost its chill.” (Sometimes, a bottle is not just a bottle.)

He explains, “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.” Bending over to put the champagne in the fridge to chill, he doesn’t see the killer.

Alas, that’s not the only time when wine etiquette distracts Bond from spycraft. In From Russia with Love (1963), an assassin posing as a fellow agent joins 007 for dinner in the luxury dining car of the Orient Express. james bond trainWith their grilled sole, Bond orders a blanc de blancs Taittinger champagne—but the impostor asks for a chianti, “the red kind.”

Later, when 007 recovers from being knocked unconscious by the bad guy, he observes bitterly, “Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something.” But the villain responds, “You may know the right wines, but you’re the one on your knees.”

(Of course, Bond would have a much tougher time ferreting out the bad guys today, since the old rules about red wine and fish have long since been broken.)

However, in Diamonds are Forever (1971), Bond uses his knowledge of red wine to sniffjames bond train 1 out the rat. As Bond and Jill St. John are sharing a private dinner aboard a cruise liner, the sommelier pours the 1955 Mouton-Rothschild.

Bond casually remarks that it’s a pity the ship doesn’t have any claret. The wine steward agrees, confirming Bond’s suspicion that the sommelier is an impostor—since Mouton is, in fact, a claret.

The villain tries to strangle Bond with his tastevin, but Bond throws both him and his “bombe surprise” dessert overboard.

Here’s a video on the wines of James Bond and others in movies.

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