Food Critic Claims Scandal's Olivia Pope Treats Wine Like a 'Can of Beer'
It’s not enough that Olivia Pope has to deal with party-hardy First daughters and a bullet lodged in a dead president’s head: Now The New York Times has got some stuff to say about her wine-drinking technique.
In his column, food and wine critic Eric Asimov discussed the drinking habits of female television characters on Homeland, Cougar Town and The Good Wife, though he seemed to be especially focused on Pope (played by Kerry Washington).
“No show uses wine more than Scandal to portray character. It’s not enough for the audience to infer that Olivia loves wine from her drinking habits. We have to be reminded of it regularly,” he wrote.
Asimov is also quick to point out gaffes on the show, like the fact that neither the Châteauneuf-du-Pape “du Bellay” (delivered to Pope and Jake on a tropical island) or the “Château Antoine ’91,” which she identifies after taking a sip in a restaurant with her father, are wines that actually exist.
Along with the lack of proper fact-checking, Asimov also implies that Pope isn’t exactly acting like much of a connoisseur herself. “But if she is an expert, Olivia treats even the finest wine as if it were a can of beer. She habitually grabs goblets by the bulb rather than the stem, as a wine lover would. She never swirls and sniffs, the ritual that non-wine drinkers alternately find amusing, affected or annoying. She guzzles rather than sips,” Asimov wrote.
Of course, Asimov admits that behaviors like sipping and swirling would make Washington’s character seem too “precious” and therefore less believable. “Gladiators, as Olivia and her associates style themselves, don’t swirl. They gulp.”
He also points out that the attorney is using her wine to “self-medicate,” á la the lovesick Humphrey Bogart with his shots in Casablanca, which a true wine lover might take issue with. “Classic wine culture … puts wine at the center of the table, to be savored as a vital component of a meal rather than a stand-alone drink,” he writes.
Of course, who has time for leisurely, multi-course dinners when you’re trying work it like a Gladiator?