'50 Shades of Grey' arousing keen interest in 17th century wine
Fans of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' now want to experience first hand some of the erotic novel's contents - including South Africa's Constantia desert wine, which is on the menu at a fictitious masked ball.
For two centuries, it provided sweet comfort to some of the best known characters in history and literature, from Napoleon and Louis XVI to Frederick the Great and Charles Dickens' Reverend Septimus Crisparkle.
Even the French poet Baudelaire was moved to claim that only the lips of his lover surpassed the heavenly sweetness of South Africa's honey-coloured Constantia wine.
Now, exactly 200 years after the nectarous drink was prescribed for Jane Austen's heroine Marianne Dashwood for its "healing powers on a disappointed heart", the venerable Constantia wine label is making an unlikely - and perhaps less salubrious - literary comeback.
The 2004 vintage of Vin de Constance makes an unexpected appearance in the second of the erotic Shades of Grey trilogy by E L James, on the menu of an extravagant masked ball attended by the book's romantic leads, the Telegraph reported.
The Constantia wine forms part of the third course of the charity event, attended by the Fifty Shades' lovers Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele - paired with sugared-crusted walnut chiffon candied figs, Sabayon sauce and maple ice cream.
Ardent followers of the novels - which have sold 65 million copies worldwide - have already begun making pilgrimages to places named in them.
Now book clubs and restaurants, mostly in America, are beginning to stage Fifty Shades evenings with replica menus.
While no-one at Klein Constantia, the estate 10 miles inland from Cape Town that produces the wine, admits to having actually read the book, the impact of its brief reference to the wine is tangible.
Hans Astrom, the estate's managing director said that they're asked every day by people coming into their tasting rooms about the wine appearing in 'Fifty Shades Darker'.
"We were somewhat surprised to discover that Vin de Constance was featured in the book, but as a result many new people are now discovering one of the great wines of the world," Astrom said.
Napoleon is said to have drunk a bottle a day while in exile on St Helena, and it was the favourite after-dinner drink of Otto Bismarck and the King of Prussia. More recently, the celebrated chef Michel Roux, from Le Gavroche, has written an entire cookery book devoted to the wine.