Most healthy people do not drink before 5pm. And the age of the three-martini lunch has passed.
However, I started this past Friday morning surrounded by champagne bottles at Moet & Chandon's Soho pop-up boutique.
The bubbly company -- owned by LVMH, which trades in France -- is testing a temporary Manhattan store that that lets celebrants bring in a pre-purchased bottle of Moët (the shop does not sell any champagne), which the boutique will customize with any word you like, under 7 letters, for $30.
Why so pricy? The bling is hand-applied and the stones are Swarovski crystal. The marketing event up right in time for New Year's Eve -- which is a key time of year for champagne companies.
Moet and Chandon's vice president of National Sales Cathy Steen told me that the company does 40% of its business during the last month and a half of the year. The holiday is so important that the company spends the entire year prepping the retailers who sell the Moet product.
Just like luxury apparel and accessories, luxury champagne brands are seeing the emerging-market growth boost their business. According to Steen, global champagne demand will reach 330 million bottles by the end of 2007 -- today. That's annual growth of 7 percent to 8 percent.
So while drinking away 2007's worries may be just a party for you, there's serious profit in it for liquor companies. One pressure on Moet and liquor company Diageo's profits is the fact that U.S. sales have to be converted into euros as both companies are European.
But according to Steen, the culprit causing champagne prices to rise over the next two years is the grape. Champagne grape production is near capacity because of emerging market demand, the luxury boom in the U.S. and the rediscovery of champagne by restauranteurs.
So if you needed an excuse to drink up Monday evening, just think that the bubbly you're imbibing will be worth 7 percent to 8 percent more next year. You might be able to convince yourself that you're actually saving money!
Happy New Year!
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