Beverage-Based Insults

Today’s guest lecturer, Tim Richards, looks at the controversial topic of libation vilification…


“You are going to have a piece of policy that comes direct from the manic monkey cafe of inner-suburbia nirvana-ville straight to you!”

Well, crikey. When Senator Barnaby Joyce frothed over (like a vigorously prepared cappuccino) with these words in Canberra in June, a few thoughts occurred to me:

1) Canberra has that effect on people.

2) Where can I find this Manic Monkey Cafe?

3) And do they do good lattes?

Which then led me to reflect on the time-honoured practice of conservative commentators using beverages as insults

Do you consider yourself a champagne socialist? Are you a member of the cappuccino-sipping elite?

If those expressions seem odd, it’s because they’re dated. Champagne socialist was coined some decades ago to describe a left-leaning toff, and “cappuccino-sipping” only carried opprobrium when a cappuccino was new and trendy – a time we now know as “the 1980s”. When your aged mother’s favourite drink is a cappuccino, you know it’s no longer cutting-edge. I suspect even Senator Joyce knocks back a cappuccino from time to time.

However, beverage-based insults are too handy for right-wing hacks to discard, so they’re updated from time to time. The current standard forms are “latte-sipping” and “chardonnay socialist”. A quick google of Andrew Bolt’s blog on the Herald Sun turns up over 700 instances of “latte-sipping”, though they all seem to emanate from comments left by his readers (maybe Bolty likes the odd latte himself).

Yes, I’ve read Bolt’s blog so you don’t have to; here are some fine examples from his followers:

“latte-sipping pinko weaklings”,
“soy latte sipping nitwits”,
“latte sipping, globe trotting parasites”,
“high latte sipping areas”,
and the fantastic “primped and coiffured latte-sipping special friends”.

But these are, frankly, looking tired. Walk into any shopping mall in Melbourne, and you’ll hear salt-of-the-earth tabloid-reading Aussie diggers ordering a “lartay”. And chardonnay is ubiquitous, even if it’s recently been overtaken by sauvignon blanc as Australia’s best-selling white.

So we clearly need new stereotyping beverages. The hot beverage, luckily, is easy to sort out. “Chai-sipping”has already had a bit of a test-drive online, and you must admit it’s perfect. Even better, it should last for a while – can you imagine your average outer suburbanite strolling into the local mall cafe and loudly insisting on chai?

The insulting wine is more problematic, with no obvious candidate. Ideally it’d be a white varietal much favoured by wanky inner-city lefty types given to discussing the intricate differences between street art and graffiti. Speaking as a wanky inner-city lefty type (who knows that stencil art is good, while tagging is bad), I’d tentatively put forward viognier for the honour; I can imagine myself as a viognier socialist.

But I’m not inflexible on this. Which white wine should a 21st century trendy lefty sip? And should coffee give way so easily to chai? (ristretto-sipping elites, anyone?) All suggestions are welcome. Unless, of course, you’re too busy saving the gay whales or inventing those mounds of climate change evidence to take part.

Tim Richards – Travel writer and macchiato sipper (so sue me).

You can find Tim’s travel writing at Aerohaveno, and his Twitter feed here.

17 Responses to Beverage-Based Insults

  1. murrayNE says:

    Do additives count? Saccharin socialism, anybody?

    (Actually, I’d swear I’d never heard it before, but I thought about the use of the term “saccharin” and as soon as I thought of “saccharine socialist” I knew that the alliteration was too good for it not to have been used – Google agreed)

    I think that one issue with wine-based insults is that a too-encyclopedic knowledge of wine will always might reflect on the insulter as much as the insultee in the eyes of the discerning insult-watcher. As you mention, Chardonnay and Champagne are well-enough known to be all well and good, and you might get away with “Riesling Republican”…
    but could you really take someone throwing out “Chenin Charlatan” seriously? A “Muscat Monarchist”? “Lambrusco Libertarian”?

    Oh… and a last minute thought – I guess that even older than the 80’s references would be “whiskey priest”.

    Nice article.

  2. Spark says:

    The only problem with viognier is that many of the people who might most want to use it as an insult wouldn’t be able to pronounce it.

    And that’s not actually meant as an insult to them. Just the truth! I myself had to ask my wine snob boyfriend how to say it correctly. :)

  3. Perhaps a green tea pinko?

  4. murrayNE says:

    A Milo-Mustached Mouthbreather? :-)

    (Warning… my love of alliteration knows no bounds)

  5. Maybe a sorbet socialist? (That’s for you, murrayNE) ;)

  6. Narrelle says:

    I was wondering if the alcohol-based insults should be moved up a notch in both type and price. I wouldn’t mind being a martini revolutionary.

  7. Dave AA says:

    In this day and age it might be more appropriate to use brand names.
    Up-market: A Bolinger Bolshee.
    Downmarket: a Coca Cola Communist or a McMarxist.

    • murrayNE says:

      I love those downmarket ones… they will be slipped into conversation within the week. :-)

    • murrayNE says:

      BTW, is a Coca Cola Communist what Braggy meant when he talked about “mixing ‘pop’ and politics”?

      You read it, you can’t unread it.

  8. Dave AA says:

    A Riesling Ratbag?

    This is fun, but I should stop now.

  9. Tim says:

    Interesting suggestions! “Saccharin socialist” sounds like someone who isn’t a real socialist, just a namby-pamby centre-leftist. Could be useful.

    Good point re the wine term having to be posh but easy enough to pronounce; bit stumped there. The spirits option is interesting. Absinthe socialist perhaps?

  10. Anne-Marie says:

    Moscato Marxist?
    Moscato is bought in Brighton and Yarraville and taking over from cheap sparkling wines – especially as it has a frizzante or light fizz to the uninitiated. And, according to the bottle I drank yesterday, it’s a perfect accompaniment for breakfast danishes or dessert.

    So, it’s sweet, pseudo posh and drunk by people who consider wine a breakfast food.

    But then I like soy lattes with honey.

  11. Tim says:

    All the better to issue forth with your honied lefty words, no doubt!

  12. jakobein says:

    babycino bolshie? caipiroska socialist (or is that a tautology)?

  13. bbox says:

    I’ve seen some pretty bogan suburbanites going the chai lattes – chai mix poured into a jug of milk – almost always soy – steamed and poured into a big gloria jeans size cup… grab the honey and squeeze patterns into the froth to wreak some passive-aggressive insult words havoc.

    Double ristretto latte for me and if you make it hot, like the philistines always ask for it, you deserve my scorn.

  14. Smith Albert says:

    monkey mania?
    pretty good play centre for theme based party in inner urban nirvanaville.. Well i like the ludlow’s premier party venue!

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