Monday, 11 June 2012

Bitter flavour



The Major told with almost tears in his eyes how his noble friend the Marquis of Steyne, passing through London on the way to the Continent, had ordered any quantity of his precious, his priceless Amontillado, that had been a present from King Ferdinand to the noble Marquis, to be placed at the disposal of Mr Arthur Pendennis. The widow and Laura tasted it with respect (though they didn’t in the least like the bitter flavour) but the invalid was greatly invigorated by it, and Warrington pronounced it superlatively good.
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) – Pendennis

Bitter sherry? Was Thackeray referring to what we call dry sherry or was he being satirical about Lord Steyne’s precious Amontillado?

Satirical is my guess, but it's only a guess.

6 comments:

Sam Vega said...

Not sure about the widow and Laura, but could it be satire at their expense? i.e. it seems "bitter" to their uneducated palate?

Having told you once that I had not read Thackeray, I now remember I did read "Pen" many years ago.

Is there an account somewhere of the raw grimness of a new housing development? It seemed very modern...

A K Haart said...

Sam - maybe but the widow and Laura are Dickensian heroines of the highest purity and I don't think Thackeray would satirize their tastes.

Don't remember a new housing development, but it's a long novel, I may have forgotten bits already!

Demetrius said...

See this, a short way down just above "Sherries Made Simple".

http://www.cellartours.com/spain/spanish-wine-regions/sherry.html

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - "salty, as well as slightly bitter and introverted"? I've never detected salty or slightly bitter in any sherry - but introverted? Maybe.

James Higham said...

One gets the impression he would like a worthless case of it thrown out his way.

A K Haart said...

James - that's probably the most likely explanation.