Julien Boulard / 朱利安: Burgundy, I love you… Me neither!

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I am fascinated by how some wine regions such as Burgundy and Barolo have become a ‘must-like’ in China and how people not particularly fond of these regions are sometimes perceived as outcasts by ‘real’ wine lovers.

By cartoonist Robert Thompson
By cartoonist Robert Thompson

Indeed, disliking Bordeaux isn’t taboo any more (quite the contrary sadly), but try to say ‘I don’t like Burgundy’ in public, and you’ll see horrified looks and stunned faces around you, as if you had gone mad, blaspheming against the holy spirit or heading for serious troubles !

I was therefore surprised last week, when only a few days apart, two Chinese friends dared to rebel against convention, one by audaciously posting a 600 words-long confession on her WeChat account, and the second one by covertly admitting to a crime on a Saturday night, only doing so after making sure not being spied on by a mole from the morality police. You never know!

My first friend, we’ll call her ‘A Qin’ to respect her anonymity and to avoid reprisals from a fanatical Cistercian monk, expressed doubts about her own faith through a letter written to Burgundy itself, and published on the revered social media.

In her letter, A Qin acknowledges the almighty's greatness and expresses her goodwill and hard work to be worthy of its grace. She emphasises her devotion to studying the re(li)gion, never missing the opportunity to drink its sacred blood, sacrificing a few despicable profane desires along the way. But despite her longstanding and pious efforts, A Qin hasn't felt the much-awaited benediction yet and wonders how much longer it will take to understand the subtle shades of the nectar. She sees many fellow believers communally praising its refine character, calling it ‘delicacy’, but she shamefully realises that her true penchant is for more trivial potations.

By cartoonist Robert Thompson
By cartoonist Robert Thompson

Now under witness protection and living with a new identity, Jason managed to keep low profile for a long time, taking care not to arouse suspicion from his peers. Nonetheless, after a few slips of tongue, it became clear that he wasn’t safe anymore… His crime? Not willing to pay the Burgundy mob!

On that rainy night, away from inquisitive eyes, the man partially masked by his fedora hat confessed: ‘Look at the price of they booze! It’s obvious they don’t welcome poor folks like may! I’ll be damned if I welcome an unwelcoming fellow!’ He dotted his sentence by scornfully spitting in an imaginary spittoon.

I could almost taste the tannic bitterness of the man, secretly thinking that many other outlaws felt fooled like him. He then went on stressing out the better deals the overly-vilified Bordeaux gang offered him, even if he grudgingly recognised that the stuff they were dealing might appeal to another kind of clientele.

These aren’t two lost souls seeking for remission, but shunted spirits torn apart between propriety and self-affirmation, between merging into the crowd and just going with one’s gut (think about all those hiding in caves because of their shameful attraction for semi-sweet wines).

Unfortunately, wine has this inexplicable power to attract pedantic Mr. and Mrs. Know-it-all, who will never lose an opportunity to make you feel like the ugly duckling of a group, mocking your taste, praising theirs, and thus making self-emancipation even more difficult. But don't give up! Trust your buds and stop feeling guilty. You’ll appreciate wine just even more.

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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