[M]y impression is that the proportion of our population that consumes either wine or brie, or both together, has gone up since  . . . Hasn’t the insult lost its bite? I thought of this when I read a crack against elites that mentioned bottled water. It sure seems as though drinking bottled water has ceased to be an elite activity. Back in 1997, conservatives could mock latte towns–but you can find latte in any town you’re in nowadays. Conclusion: We need some new put-downs. (Confession: I like brie and wine, have occasionally had a latte, and buy bottled water for my family–but that last point reflects the high lead content in D.C. water rather than a preference on my part.)
At least as to the bottled water thing, Ramesh is right on. Most of us have an instinctive belief that paying good money for water in a bottle is ridiculous. And yet, if you live in a city like New York or Washington (or Worcester, Mass., where I went to college and where the tap water was brown), where drinking the tap water is not a sane option, bottled water has become a necessity – and all the moreso after September 11 and especially after Katrina, when bottled water has become an emblem of disaster preparedness.
(As for wine, I believe recent surveys have shown that Americans as a whole now drink more wine than beer.)