The great American humorist James Thurber gave us one of the finest pomposity-pricking comments on pretension about wine with his cartoon caption (from Men, Women and Dogs): “It’s a naïve domestic burgundy, without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.”

The line is quoted approvingly by another admirable comic writer Auberon Waugh in one of the essays that make up his book Waugh on Wine. Originally published in 1986, it has just been reissued by Quartet Books at £10 and is huge fun to read.

The essay in which Thurber figures is concerned with Bron’s novelist father Evelyn Waugh and his attitude to, and writings on, wine.

In fact, though a considerable expert on drinking of all sorts, Waugh wrote surprisingly little on the subject, except in his diaries and letters where his massive benders, especially in Oxford, figure prominently.

In his celebrated ‘Oxford’ novel Brideshead Revisited, when Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte are caning into the contents of Brideshead’s cellars, their descriptions of the wine become absurdly picturesque.

“It is a little shy wine like a gazelle.” “Like a leprechaun.” “Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.” “Like a flute by still water.”

And so it goes on, until Sebastian asks: “Ought we to be drunk every night?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“I think so too.”

Perhaps Bron had this famous passage in mind when he began his own impressive career writing on wine in such magazines as Harper’s and Queen, Tatler and The Spectator.

Certainly, he was one for the amusing simile. In Waugh on Wine’s first essay he criticises an American wine-writer for saying a pinot noir tasted of cherries and smoke, neither of which he (Waugh) detected in any wine.

He then declares: “My own feeling . . . is that wine writing should be camped up. . . Bizarre and improbable side tastes should be proclaimed: mushrooms, rotting wood, black treacle, burned pencils, condensed milk, sewage, the smell of French railway stations or ladies’ underwear – anything to get away from the accepted list of fruit and flowers.

“As I say, I am not sure that it helps much, but it is more amusing to read.”

The amusement of his readers was always Bron’s principal aim in his journalism, and was certainly achieved when he dealt with wine.

He described one bottle as tasting like “ a collapsed marquee fallen into a rotting silage pit”, another as “Ribena-flavoured beetroot soup”.

This sort of thing puts me in mind of Eric Idle’s Monty Python sketch on Australian wine, the beginning of which (“A lot of people in this country pooh-pooh Australian table wines”) is oddly paralleled in Waugh’s observations on the subject: “The more I learn about Australian wine, the more impressed I am by it. But one problem is to persuade English drinkers to take them seriously.”

Perhaps they should get to grips with some Chateau Chunder which, according to Idle, is “specially grown for those keen on regurgitation – a fine wine which really opens up the sluices at both ends.

“Real emetic fans,” he adds, “will also go for a Hobart Muddy, and a prize-winning . . . Nuit Saint Wogga Wogga, which has a bouquet like an aborigine’s armpit.”

In the opinion of some ‘experts’, Oz wines can outclass those of France. The celebrated critic James Agate, having asked for a “good burgundy” in a Southend off-licence, was told: “I am sorry, sir, we haven’t any Australian burgundy, but we have a French wine of the same name. Will that do?”

Monty Python came once more into my mind as I read Waugh on Wine when, discussing ‘Little-known wines of France’, he writes: “The sad truth is that the best wines in France come from the five greatest wine producing areas of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhône, Champagne and Alsace.”

Five! Only if Alsace and Champagne are one area, which they’re not. Wasn’t this like Python’s Spanish Inquisition whose “three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency . . . and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope”?

Actually not, for Bron – in a rare instance of ambiguity in his writing – was presumably referring to the five greatest wine producers of Bordeaux (Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild).

There was nothing in the least ambiguous, though, about his view of British wine-drinkers, who certainly knew how to put it away.

“Britain is the only country where it is quite normal for many of the old professional and upper-middle classes to start drinking at six in the evening and go on non-stop until they go to bed at 12.30.”

Waugh was one of these night-long topers. The wonder is he wrote so wisely and so well.