Seven Sensualities

“A spirit of refinement,

voluptuousness, delicacy, exuberance, and sensuality reigned in every sphere of life, from the salon to the boudoir.”

“Libertinage” is a delightfully unusual word meaning “libertinism,” which means “in the manner of a libertine,” that is to say, “a person who is unrestrained by conventional morality; specifically, one leading a dissolute life.” Well, they got that part spot-on. The

regent was the Duc d’Orleans, in whom, according to old Louis XIV, “all the vices competed for first place,” who exhibited “unbridled tastes of the flesh.” The Duc liked his Champagne bubbly, and according to one of his drinking buddies, “The orgies never started until everyone was in that state of joy that Champagne brings.”

As I say, I don’t wish to be in any way construed as harshing on Dom Perignon, a truly fine Champagne house. They are, after all, carrying on a tradition of extraordinary marketing, and in far less bombastic terms than were once employed. Back in Louis XIV’s day, a couple of royal doctors ignited an already-smoldering feud between Champagne and Burgundy (both were making red wine at the time). One blamed Champagne for the king’s health troubles, including gout and an anal fistula. Burgundy was prescribed as a remedy. The dean of the Beaune medical school weighed in on behalf of Burgundy. The Faculty of Medicine in Reims argued that Champagne brought on greater longevity.

I’ll turn it over to the Kladstrups for the rest: “In 1712, when a professor from a college in Champagne wrote an ode in Latin praising the local wines, the city of Reims rewarded him with huge quantities of Champagne, along with a pension…By the end of the year, Paris was awash in pamphlets, poems, theses, and other wine-quarrel-related polemics…” Now, we have the quiet elegance of The 7 Sensualities.

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