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Casablanca and Chamapgne



We saw Casablanca again last night for the Nth time, and I was struck by the way wine wove itself through the story. From the start of the story right through the end, wine and Champagne were key elements to the struggle against hopelessness that the trapped characters felt.

The movie begins with Rick finishing a glass of Champagne. It's sad that in those days they used the giant-bowl glasses, which aren't very good for saving bubbles or flavor in a bubbly! Ugarte comes over with the two passes, and goes through two glasses of cognac.

Cut over to Yvonne, drowning her sorrows in Rick's private stock of brandy. I've tried to figure out which it is, but the picture is too small for me to see. She's soon escorted home by Sacha.

Now Major Strasser enters, and Captain Renault kindly suggests he try the Veuve Cliquot '26, a very good year for this Champagne. Laszlo and Ilsa come in and order two glasses of Cointreau. Renault seems to be fond of Champagne, because in a few minutes he joins the couple, and orders a bottle of Champagne for them (although, we might note, not the '26). Lazlo heads up to the bar before it arrives, and Renault meets him there and orders a pair of Champagne Cocktails. These people like to drink!

Later that evening, Rick is depressed over seeing Ilsa and goes most of the way through a bottle of bourbon. He starts remembering their days in Paris. This involves they drinking Cordon Rougue Champagne in his apartment, with the famous "Here's looking at you, kid" line. Later in La Belle Aurore, a little club, they're trying to get through the remaining bottles of Cordon Rougue before the Germans get into town. They even threaten to pour it in the garden rather than let the Germans get it. Their final kiss knocks over the glass.

The next morning in the Blue Parrot, Rick and Ferrari share a bourbon together. At Rick's later on, Yvonne and her new German soldier lover order "French 75s" at the bar. Carl, the waiter, then brings "the finest brandy" to the Leuchtags, who are preparing to leave for Lisbon. It appears to be Hennessey Cognac. Rick's drinking brandy when he chats with Annina, and then Laszlo comes in with Ilsa and order two cognacs. When Rick lets Annina win their 'escape fare', Carl pours a brandy for Rick in thanks.

Now we go through perhaps the longest wine-free stretch of the entire movie, until Ilsa gets into Rick's apartment. After the "pause" they are sipping Champagne on the couch. Then Laszlo comes into the bar, and Rick goes down to pour him some brandy. That's the end of the wine, as the couple is given the passes later and hop on that plane to Lisbon.



Wine in Movies and Books


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