Hence my interest in the latest imbroglio between the U.S. and the United Nations. U.S. officials have asked that delegates from other countries cut down on their drinking, which has hampered the world body’s annual budget-setting process. Said one U.S. official: “[S]ave the champagne for toasting the successful end of the session.”
This has not gone over well elsewhere. Britain’s Independent newspaper, noting that there are four places to get a drink in Parliament, called us “puritanical Americans” who have been “harshing the world's buzz since 1776.”
The problem here, I think, is not that UN delegates are drinking too much. The problem is that they’re not drinking cheap wine. The U.S. official used the word “Champagne,” and we know how expensive that is. So it’s no wonder the delegates are coming to meetings sloshed – if you paid $100 for a bottle of wine, wouldn’t you want to drink the whole thing and not let any of it go to waste?
Which leads to my modest, yet eminently sensible, proposal: That the delegates substitute wines from the $10 Hall of Fame for the overpriced cult wines and Champagne that they’re apparently drinking.
This will do three things: First, show budget restraint during the budget process, always a good idea. Second, it will encourage the delegates to be more responsible with their drinking. As I always tell wine drinkers, if your wine doesn’t cost much, you don’t feel compelled to drink it in one sitting and you don’t feel guilty if you pour what’s left down the drain.
The third thing? We won’t have to put up with critics like the Independent. It’s fine and dandy to make fun of U.S. attitudes toward drink (much of which we deserve), but harshing the world’s buzz? That’s quite a charge from the empire that exported cricket to its colonies. Talk about a buzz kill.