In days long past middle-class women liked to drink a fizzy wine called champagne.
Then a group of snooty champagne makers got the EU to declare that only their champagnes could legally be called champagnes.
Thus began a long, never-ending battle involving large amounts of taxpayers money, and private producers’ money, being spent on pointless legal fights, and more power over language being given to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.
And what was the result? Was it that the ‘real’ champagne makers made more money, as they hoped? It doesn’t appear so. The result was (at least in the UK) that the middle class women started drinking cava instead, because it was cheaper than ‘real’ champagne. Then they turned to prosecco, which they’re now all mad for. Richer people still drink champagne, as I would if I was rich, but for everyone else, champagne has become invisible, and ‘prosecco’ is all you ever hear.
This is what happens when you try to control language to control people’s behaviour. Their behaviour slips out of your control in ways you didn’t — although everybody else did — expect.
You’d almost call it ‘champagne comedy’, except that means little to young people nowadays, so we’ll have to call ‘prosecco comedy’ instead, which doesn’t really have the same ring.
(Strictly speaking we should be saying ‘spumante’, rather than ‘prosecco’, but nobody does. It’s funny that years ago ‘spewmante’ was considered low-class, and it was the height of bad taste to serve it. It probably still is considered low-class in ritzy circles, but these days it’s ‘middle-class mum petrol’, even if it’s called ‘prosecco’ rather than ‘spumante’.)