James Bond is not a man of simple tastes. His suits are tailored. His cars are super. He’s jetted off to more exotic locales than we even care to list. And that’s before we even come to his actual tastes. Thanks to a refined palate (and a presumably bottomless MI6 expense account) 007 enjoys pricey whiskey, Vesper Martinis — and that ultimate bubbly indicator of wealth; champagne.
Not that Bond would see it that way. In fact, in Goldfinger, Ian Fleming’s most famous character describes a dinner of champagne and caviar as a “quiet, square meal”. And he doesn’t half get through the stuff. Across 14 novels, Bond sips champagne at parties, restaurants, casinos — and even enjoys a steak-and-champagne dinner aboard a transatlantic flight in Diamonds are Forever.
From ‘Bitter Champagne’ to ‘Pink Lights and Champagne’, the sparkling wine pops up in several chapter titles — and bottles of Bollinger have been included so readily in the Eon film franchise that it is one of the most prominent product partnerships in cinematic history.
For this list, however, we’ve stuck to literary Bond. From Casino Royale to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 007 uncorks many bottles of fine champagne — and these are the ones Fleming deemed worthy of a namecheck…
1943 Taittinger Blanc de Blanc Brut
When does Bond first drink it? In Casino Royale. In the Casino Royale, in fact — during dinner with Vesper Lynd. (Also in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when he orders a bottle as room service at the Hotel Splendide.)
“Bond turned to the sommelier: ‘The Taittinger 45?’
‘A fine wine, monsieur,’ said the sommelier. ‘But if Monsieur will permit,’ he pointed with his pencil, ‘the Blanc de Blanc Brut 1943 of the same marque is without equal.’
Bond smiled. ‘So be it,’ he said.”
What’s it like? If Bond is to believed, it is “probably the finest champagne in the world”. A similar bottle today would be the Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blancs 2007, that has a nose of white blossom and mineral undertones.
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut
When does Bond first drink it? Also in Casino Royale. Bond drinks a half-bottle during the game of Baccarat with Le Chiffre, before enjoying a meal at the Roi Galant nightclub with Vesper — where he gets through two full-size bottles.
“Seduction dripped on the quietly throbbing air. It seemed to Bond that every couple must be touching with passion under the tables. They were given a corner table near the door. Bond ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and scrambled eggs and bacon.”
What’s it like? We’re presuming that Bond was drinking the Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut (coincidentally, the 1953 Vintage — the year of Casino Royale’s publication — is easily among this champagne’s best). Bond would have enjoyed traditional flavours; of white fruit, brioche and vanilla.
1946 Dom Perignon
When does Bond first drink it? In Moonraker, when Bond accompanies M for dinner in the white-and-gold Regency dining room of fictional gentlemen’s club, Blades.
“The wine-waiter was pleased. ‘If I may suggest it, sir, the Dom Perignon ’46. I understand that France only sells it for dollars, sir, so you don’t often see it in London. I believe it was a gift from the Regency Club in New York, sir. I have some on ice at the moment.’”
What’s it like? Bond spikes his own Dom Perignon with Bendzedrine (and feels “wonderful” as a result). Without amphetamines, the 1946 Vintage was said to be dry and full-bodied; lemony, toasty and highly extracted.
Veuve Clicquot Rosé
When does Bond first drink it? While having dinner in New York with Tiffany Case, in Diamonds Are Forever. (Also in Thunderball, when Bond orders “Clicquot rosé and fifty dollars’ worth of Beluga caviar” for himself, Emilio Largo and “Domino” Vitali).
“Bond beckoned to the maître d’hôtel. He gave the order, and the wine waiter, who came from Brooklyn but wore a striped jacket and a green apron and had a silver chain with a tasting-cup round his neck, went off for the Clicquot Rosé.”
What’s it like? According to Bond, “it was ice cold and seemed to have a faint taste of strawberries. It was delicious”. Today’s equivalent, the Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé, has notes of wild strawberry, cherry and blackberry.
When does Bond first drink it? In Diamonds Are Forever, when Tiffany Case sends a quarter-bottle to his cabin on the Queen Elizabeth. (Also, in 15 Bond films, including Live and Let Die, Licence to Kill and No Time To Die).
“Bond slipped off the bed and went over and examined the contents of the tray. He smiled to himself. There was a quarter bottle of Bollinger, a chafing dish containing four small slivers of steak on toast canapés, and a small bowl of sauce.”
What’s it like? Again, we’re making an educated guess that the Bollinger in question was the brand’s standard Brut — as this was one of the house’s few champagnes sold in a quarter-format. As for taste, think citrus, figs and spice.
1950 Pommery Rosé
When does Bond first drink it? In Goldfinger. Specifically, over a meal of stone crabs at Bill’s on the Beach with the titular villain’s card partner, Junius Du Pont.
“The wine waiter, washing his hands, took the waiter’s place.
‘Two pints of pink champagne. The Pommery ’50. Silver tankards. Right?’
‘Vairry good, Mr Du Pont’.”
What’s it like? “The champagne seemed to have the faintest scent of strawberries,” Fleming writes. “After each helping of crab, the champagne cleaned the palate for the next.”
1963 Krug Vintage Brut
When does Bond first drink it? In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Back in the Casino Royale, Bond orders a half-bottle while making the acquaintance of the Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, his future wife.
“The half-bottle of Krug he had ordered came. After the huissier had half filled the glass, Bond topped it to the brim. He held it towards her without exaggeration. ‘My name is Bond, James Bond. Please stay alive, at any rate for tonight.’ He drank the glass down at one long gulp and filled it again.”
What’s it like? There are earthy notes to Krug champagne, with the 1963 vintage showing particular minerality — in addition to oaky flavours, light vanilla and a crisp citrus finish.
When does Bond first drink it? In the little-known short story 007 in New York. The champagne appears in a footnoted recipe, for ‘Scrambled Eggs James Bond’ said to have been provided by the housekeeper to Fleming’s friend, Ivar Bryce.
“Serve on hot buttered toast in individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittinger) and low music.”
What’s it like? If the 1960s Taittinger Rosé was anything like the brand’s vibrant pink fizz of today, Bond’s eggs would have been washed down with notes of red summer fruits, hints of peach and zingy lemon.
Want more literary Bond history? Here’s how the Walther PPK became James Bond’s weapon of choice…
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