Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Strippers know Champagne

Courtesy Stag and Hen, Amsterdam
The Champagne Bureau was in San Francisco last week for a huge trade tasting. I sipped a bunch of delicious Champagnes and left a happy camper.

I guess they wanted me to write about the uniqueness of Champagne. It's illegal to call sparkling wine made outside the region "Champagne" in 117 countries, but not in the U.S., where an amazing 45% of all wines labeled "Champagne" are actually cynical, cheap California-made swill.

I learned a bunch of interesting stats like that. Champagne has 4% of the grapegrowing land in France but earns 30% of the wine income (Napa is similar). The U.S. (17.9 million bottles) is the third-largest Champagne-consuming nation in the world, behind the UK (35 million) and France (170 million). But we are the world's greatest rosé Champagne market, as 16.2% of the Champagne we drink is pink.

But what you really want to hear about is strippers, right?

Courtesy Madame Noire
The Champagne Bureau was reluctant to give me numbers on this, but a lot of expensive tête de cuvée Champagne is sold in strip clubs. A lot. At amazing markups, sometimes costing more than a thousand dollars a bottle. And you thought lap dances were the main product.

"Champagne Rooms" are common in strip clubs across the U.S. Guys pay a few hundred bucks to go upstairs for private quality time with a stripper. Comedian Chris Rock had a hit spoken-word single telling men there's "(No Sex) In The Champagne Room." In fact, I learned from a stripper named "applemuffin95" on this Reddit bulletin board entry (warning: adult language) that strippers and their clients both like to promulgate the myth that sex can happen in the Champagne Room, guys because of their pride and strippers because it's good for business.

Anyway. There are Champagne Rooms, they cost a lot just to get into, and then somebody like applemuffin95 wants a bottle of Krug Clos du Mesnil 1998, not just the regular Krug 1998 vintage. Because strippers know Champagne.

Courtesy Team Coco
This is an anecdote I heard from someone who said if I revealed their identity, they'd lose their job. And it's hearsay. But what the hell, if a blog can't run this kind of tidbit, what are blogs for?

A Champagne sales rep was visiting restaurant and bar accounts in Boston, pouring samples of the new vintages, schmoozing, taking crap from wine buyers with a smile, all the stuff sales people do. One of her last visits of the day was a strip club.

The buyer downstairs kept telling her she needed to go to the Champagne Room, because the girls really wanted to talk with her. She was tired and didn't want to go. Plus the bar was already open, and she didn't want to see what was going on upstairs. But eventually the buyer persuaded her, which, considering the strip club was her top-selling account for high-end Champagnes, couldn't have been too hard.

Turns out the scantily-clad women were real Champagne aficionados. No wonder really, as they make a living cajoling concupiscent customers to treat them to a bottle. Most preferred blanc-de-blancs, though there was a blanc de noirs fan. They were concerned about the current vintage because of weather reports from France, and also wanted the sales rep's opinion on several vintages currently on the market. Were the grapes too ripe in 2003 for good aging potential? What about 2001: too dilute?

So there you have it. If you've ever wondered what happens in a strip club's Champagne Room, it turns out it's a lively discussion of the merits of bâtonnage. Just as I suspected.

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1 comment:

McSnobbelier said...

What no comments yet. How is that possible?

When I first became wine buyer, my sales reps told me of their big sales and big account. For the Moët Chandon rep he told me his best account was a dive bar in Arbor Hill section of Albany, NY. In late 80's the area was very dangerous most times of the day.

The number one account for Moët Chandon was going through 150 cases a week of .375's all consumed directly from the bottle with straws!