How to become a hip-hop mogul (or, at least how to drink like one)

by Justin D'Olier on October 19, 2010 | (4) Comments |

The world’s most extravagant wine bottle is sitting on my desk. I can’t stop staring at it, making love to it with my eyes. The hand-painted gold leaf glistens, even in the dull fluorescent light of my office. The logo and labels are made of embossed pewter, which the wine makers affix to the bottle by hand. It is equal parts garish, gaudy, and breathtaking. An obelisk of opulence.

I feel like a rap star. Making it rain, cruising with shorties, acting a fool, and dropping it like it may, indeed, be hot, seem like legitimate options for my afternoon. This is truly a bottle with bling.

I’ve popped a bottle of Dom. I’ve sipped on Cristal. But, I have never seen anything quite like Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades.

Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades on ice

Aces wild, baby. Aces wild.

It comes in three varietals, Brut Gold, Brut Rose, and Blanc de Blanc, each hand-painted in different shades of gold leaf (Gold – Gold, Rose – Pink, Blanc de Blanc – Platinum). A staff of less than twenty workers hand picks the grapes, bottles the wine, and decorates each bottle individually. When you finally pop the cork, you half expect a ray of sunshine to appear and a host of angels to serenade you with a heavenly chorus.

Oh yeah. And it retails for about $300-$600 a bottle.

So, how did this magnificent bottle wind up in my possession? Was I kicking it with Jay-Z? Hanging with P-Diddy at the club? Swapping manly stories with Lil Wayne on his yacht?

Even better, I was pouring at the Better Brands Grand Crew Holiday Show.

Ok, pouring at the Better Brands Grand Crew Holiday Show might not actually surpass the experiences of cavorting with a world famous hip-hop star, but it’s a close second.

Better Brands is a local wine distribution company. Grand Crew is their high-end portfolio. The Holiday Show is the annual event to showcase the portfolio to local wine buyers. Four hours. Forty tables. Free food and over three hundred and seventy five wines ranging in price from nine dollars to almost four hundred dollars. Wholesale. To put that in perspective, retailers routinely charge a seven to twenty percent markup and restaurants and clubs routinely add one hundred to one thousand percent markup. So, yes, there were some decent wines available. But, none more expensive, more show stopping, or more downright cool than Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades. And guess what has two thumbs and got to pour at the table with Ace of Spades all night.

This guy.

Wine tastings have a different dynamic depending on the type of wine you pour. If you get stuck at the table with the cheapest bottles, you develop an inferiority complex as crowds grow in front of other tables while a few random stragglers stop by to sample your swill. Invariably it’s the embittered wine expert who has to taste the entire portfolio for work, hates you by association for facilitating his begrudged tasting, and glares at you while he violently expectorates into the spit bucket. Shoot. Me. Now.

When you’re pouring the high end juice, life is good. A steady stream of people seek you out. Everyone is in a good mood. The hot girls bat their eyelashes at you, attempting to entice you to pour a little extra. It’s like being at strip club (from accounts I’ve read online, anyway). Everyone wants to be your friend. You are the most interesting man in the world.

But, there’s also a downside. Industry tastings primarily consist of people attending for business purposes, so the majority of people spit everything they taste. And I understand why. Tasting 375 wines in one day would give cirrhosis to a mid-sized hippopotamus. But, there are some wines I simply cannot abide spitting and Ace of Spades is definitely one of them.

According to It’s Wonderful Life, every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings. Well, every time someone spits out a mouthful of Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades an angel loses its wings. I know it’s a professional event. I know you’re supposed to spit. I know most people in attendance tastes wines of that caliber on a semi-regular basis. But, for the love of everything holy, I will never, ever, ever understand how anyone can spit out a mouthful of something that lovely. It made me want to cry. I almost asked people to spit into my mouth instead of the spit bucket. (Notice, I said almost.)

Regardless, an overwhelming number of tasters savored every last drop of the blinged-out bubbly and saved a few angels from undue wing-loss. The champagne evoked more than a few moans of pleasure and, judging solely from the facial expressions of a few more expressive tasters, a tiny orgasm or two.

Which brings me to the question undoubtedly on your mind: Is the champagne really worth the money?

Yes and no.

All three flavors of Ace of Spades are exceptional. Smooth, delicate, and balanced with the unmistakeable toasty butterscotch flavor of finely aged champagne. The Rose — my personal favorite — somehow infuses a light strawberry and blackcurrant flavor without imparting any residual sweetness. Fine Champagne Magazine ranked the Brut Gold #1 after a blind tasting of the world’s top 100 champagnes. So, yes, Ace of Spades is staggeringly excellent.

However, you’re paying for more than the wine. You’re paying for the experience.

You’re paying for the bottle, the gold leaf, the pewter label. You’re paying for the embroidered wine bag. You’re paying for the satisfaction of pouring a transcendent bubbly out of a glistening gold (or pink, or platinum) bottle. You’re paying for the right to drink like Jay-Z or Diddy or Lil-Wayne. Much like when you buy an iPod instead of a generic mp3 player, you’re paying extra because it’s cool. And it is cool. Really cool. Up to this point, at least 750 words cool. But you have to decide how much that cool is worth to you.

It is the best champagne experience I’ve ever had, but not the best champagne I’ve ever had. If you put a blindfold on me, I’d prefer a vintage bottle of Charles Heidsieck or Salon. But, take that blindfold off… I don’t know. It’s pretty fun to drink like Jay-Z.

4 responses to “How to become a hip-hop mogul (or, at least how to drink like one)”

  1. Elton Nichols says:

    So when can we

    • @Elton – That is an awesome idea. I think we need to make a follow-up video of us sabering a bottle of Ace of Spades as soon as Drink with Aloha turns a profit.

  2. I am totes j that you got to pour and taste this shiz.

    • @Kris – Seriously. I did a double take when Joce showed us what we were going to pour. Fun stuff. I have the bottle at home if you want to look at it. It’s purty.