Champagne now the tipple of choice for hip-hop royalty

LOS ANGELES, Oct 14, 2006 (AFP) – For centuries regarded as a sparkling symbol of decadence sipped by kings and queens, Champagne has today become the tipple of choice for hip-hop royalty. But while rap stars have kept the bubbly flowing from magnums, Methuselahs and jereboams in fashionable nightclubs from New York to Los Angeles, not everyone is happy at Champagne’s association with hip-hop culture.

In June, Louis Roederer’s managing director Frederic Rouzaud caused a storm in a Champagne flute when he sniffed at the popularity of the company’s expensive Cristal Champagne amongst rappers.

Asked if he felt the association with rap could harm the 230-year-old company’s marquee brand, he replied: “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it.

“I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

Rouzaud’s comments were branded racist by rapper and producer Jay-Z, who said he would ban Cristal — which has been immortalised in the lyrics of several rap records — from being sold at his nightclubs.

But regardless of Rouzaud’s perceived misgivings, analysts are unanimous that rap and champagne go together like hip an