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How The Business World Thinks About Wine

When I first saw this story, I couldn't stop laughing. But the more I thought about it, the stranger and scarier it became. Of course I know (from lots of first-hand experience) that for many people, wine is entirely a game of status. I'm reminded of the anecdote a friend relayed to me the other day about her experience taking a bunch of very wealthy businessmen around Bordeaux. They stopped at Chateau Latour and one of the businessmen (who up until this point had been bored stiff) looking at the sign at the driveway entrance exclaimed, "Hey, I've got some of this stuff in my cellar!"

Certainly some businesspeople think about wine as cultural currency, but you would also think that some of them would actually appreciate it as something more than a price tag. Perhaps more importantly, you would think that a publication like Forbes would have a more nuanced view of the stuff.

Perhaps the holidays brings out the worst in them, as it does many people, for they seem to think that the most important holiday writing they can do on the subject of wine is to convey the extremely important information of what are the most expensive champagnes in the world.

I don't know about you, but I DEFINITELY needed that information.

Perhaps the only interesting thing about this article is the fact that Krug seems to have such a monopoly on expensive champagne that Forbes is required to come up with categories of champagne that explicitly exclude them.

Comments (14)

sam wrote:
12.23.05 at 6:48 AM

I can somewhat understand the status of Krug, because it has a similar 'reputaion' in Europe. In America, however - what I don't get at all is the celebrity status of Cristal.
I don't think I'd ever heard of it til I started reading erhmm, dubious gossip magazines.
What made it so bling bling??
C'mon Alder - answer us that, please.

Alder wrote:
12.23.05 at 8:32 AM


It definitely has become Bling Bling hasn't it? I have no idea exactly how this happened, except to theorize that it has something to do with mainstream media and gangsta rap. It started appearing in rap songs a while back and now it's everywhere as a status symbol.

Alder wrote:
12.23.05 at 8:32 AM

There's an honors thesis in here somewhere, I'll bet.

12.23.05 at 1:53 PM

I think you've nailed it with the gangsta rap connection. This begs the question, why has the rap community latched on to Cristal rather than Krug (or Dom, Bollinger, etc.)? My guess is that it was the most expensive Champagne on the (probably poor) wine list at some trendy club in NYC and so some rapper (P. Diddy?) started ordering it by the case ("look at me, I'm drinking the most expensive champagne straight out of the bottle!") and others followed suit. Now that they have a list of the real most expensive Champagnes, I'd expect them to start writing songs about Krug any day now. Thank you Forbes Magazine, for providing this invaluable service to the rap community.

Eric Hall wrote:
12.23.05 at 2:16 PM

Here is an SF Chronicle Article on this very subject:

Bring on the bling -- rappers give Cristal and Hennessy street cred


Alder wrote:
12.23.05 at 4:33 PM

Thanks for the comment Roy.

I'll bet a surprising number of gangsta rappers have a subscription to Forbes. The successful ones, anyway.

chuck wrote:
12.23.05 at 6:13 PM

i suppose we could label the comments section 'how the middle class thinks about rap'

it's not all gangsta rap and i might even argue such a label given to all rap groups shows latent racism, but i won't get into all that...

how did it come about? go to trendy clubs in LA & NY & Vegas - they serve $300 bottles of vodka, gin, or cristal in their VIP rooms. the demographics are generally slanted towards trust-fund babies, but it's certainly a symbol of status among younger people.

it's nothing more than young, rich people flaunting their wealth & their vision of being rich.

stevec wrote:
12.24.05 at 6:22 AM

i have a friend who swears on cristal. (still in college, loves hip-hop and rap, and drives a mercedes.) he introduced me to cristal but i too didn't think it was THAT great. i will send him the forbes link and see if he changes his mind afterwards.

Alder wrote:
12.25.05 at 3:05 PM


I certainly don’t know the exact difference between the different genres of rap, but I do know there are different genres, but I'm certainly guilty as charged when it comes to generalizing about it. However, I do think there's a hollywood/music influence to Cristal's popularity which I think is more responsible for its presence in those VIP rooms than the other way around.

road worrier wrote:
12.26.05 at 2:43 PM

I seem to remember that in the 80s, way before it was a prop in rap videos Cristal was also known as Elton John's favorite fizz. Could Biggie have been an Elton fan?

Ben Simpson wrote:
12.27.05 at 3:06 PM

I remember watching From Dusk til' Dawn and hearing Tarantino go on and on about Cristal: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116367/

Way out of my budget. I prefer the price of Roederer Estate...

Good post!

maggie wrote:
12.28.05 at 3:17 PM

Sam - Cristal is easier to rhyme than the others.

I never understood why Bollinger never tried to seed the population with "Bollie." That's an evil genius marketing scheme ball dropped on someone's big toe.

Ben wrote:
12.29.05 at 8:00 AM

I agree with Maggie that Cristal sounds better in a song. Much better than Krug. I wrote a whole Krug song and it sucked.

I'm just waiting for the songs about Grower-Champagne to start hitting the charts. "Sippin' on Latitia from Billiot, wonderin' what's the dealio."


Ben wrote:
12.29.05 at 8:01 AM

Chuck: Just because you said you wouldn't get into the racism subject, doesn't mean you didn't. You definitely implied it, and did very little to support your implications.

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