Champagne Confusion

It used to be easy to verify the accuracy of a quote; I would refer to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. This was a single, reliable, and available source of reference. (Note the use of the Oxford comma; it is especially important to use it when writing a list that refers to Oxford). It is no longer so easy to discover who uttered a great phrases; reference sources are more available, but there are now many sources and the lack of reliability can be seen in the differing answers one can obtain.


On the website of a local winery came the following quote about Champagne. 

In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it. 

The quotation was attributed to Napoleon. I wanted to share the thought online, but wanted to verify the quotation first. Using Google, I found the quote, with a little more context. 

I could not live without champagne; in victory I deserve it; in defeat I need it. 
This was from a Daily Mail article and it was attributed to Winston Churchill. I understand that anything reported in the Daily Mail has a high chance of being wrong, but this was not a helpful start to verifying the accuracy of the quote.

Another Champagne website attributes this to Napoleon:

I drink Champagne when I win, to celebrate… And I drink Champagne when I lose, to console myself

The same sentiments, but a lot less snappy even allowing for the vagueries of translation


In despair I turned to the Oxford University Press. They offered the following quote:

In victory, you deserve champagne, in defeat, you need it.

They attributed the quote as follows:

Anon; frequently associated with Napoleon without evidence.



I received confirmation that the Daily Mail is not only a terribly unreliable source of information, but has a definite English bias in that inaccuracy. No other source mentions Churchill as the source of the quote, but the Daily Mail could not credit a Frenchman with such a sparkling thought. 

I also found a treasure trove of quotes (I wonder if there is a collective noun for quotes) on the subject of Champagne. I did not seek to verify the accuracy of the attribution, but none came from the Daily Mail.

My only regret is that I did not drink more Champagne. – Lord Maynard Keynes, on his deathbed


Lily Bollinger was asked “When do you drink champagne?”, and replied:

I only drink champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. 
Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. 
When I have company, I consider it obligatory.  
I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am.  
Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.


Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right – F Scott Fitzgerald


And finally a quote that is attributed by other sources to Churchill

Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!

Published in: on 24 December, 2014 at 8:48  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. A jeroboam of quotes?

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