Forget oil, a more immediate crisis is developing. There may soon be a worldwide shortage of champagne. Entreprenurial Frenchmen are hording tens of millions of bottles to make bigger bucks later. How American of them.
Demand for champagne is on the rise. I guess, as economies bubble up and tastes get more expensive, more people from more places want to pop the cork. Russia, China and India are emerging markets, and demand is increasing in the USA. Around 320 million bottles were sold last year worldwide, and 330 million are expected this year. That’s a lot of cork. Yields are apparently at maximum levels.
Although hording to manipulate the market is typically American, the governance of champagne making is typically French. The government decides how much land can be used to produce the bubbly. Presently, 32,600 hectares of vineyards are authorized to grow the grapes and it takes the government about 10 years to grant more land to it.
Man’s capacity for self indulgence is unlimited. Champagne was always the rich man’s drink. If the price goes up, it will only be more so. So, the richest will get it still. All the other rich drinkers will have to suffer the pains of deprivation.
Life is hard.
Rumors are circulating that French leaders accuse President Bush of plotting a secret invasion to take the Champagne forcibly from the France. The Surge in Iraq is just a cover to move troops closer to France. Looking back on Bush's trips to Europe the last year, critics shout "It's all about the champagne!" France has asked the U.N. Security Council to condemn a possible invasion in the strongest possible terms. England suggested a toast instead. U.N.leaders are scrambling to open liquor stores around the world and take payment in grape futures.
Hal Lindsey has issued his 21st revision of the book "Late Great Planet Earth", revising his claim that the world will end in Israel to claim that it will end in France as the forces of the world converge on France's wine growing area in a final confrontation over that most precious of liquids. He has now decided that Gog and Magog are rival vintners.
Jimmy Carter has shown up in Paris, giving an interview in front of the Eiffel Tower, saying "It is all the fault of America, which has consistently used its power and influence over the entire period of its existence, except during my presidency, to oppress the champagne market and its growers and the exceptionally kind and gentle people of France." He later got into a fist fight with Jessie Jackson and they both tried to get in front of a reporter's camera.
Hillary Clinton issued a press release stating that, if elected, she would seize all the stored bottles and all the profits and put them into a fund to study whether cow farts or Al Gore speeches created more methane. In addition, she promised that America would pay for free health care for any champagne growers in France.
Representative Murtha proposed an ear mark for the legislation needed to do the seizure, which legislation would fund and create the Murtha center for research and development of ear marks in his home development. Ann Coulter put out a cigarette in his ear, saying all democrats and frenchment were godless pagans who would be eaten alive by Arabs before they could sell their champagne, so it wouldn't matter anyway. Her new book will be out next week.
I'll keep you posted as this story develops.