"Swiggas with attitude: rappers big up sweet white wine"
IN 1993, the musician Clifford Smith, known to his followers as Method Man, outlined his idea of a pleasant evening indoors.
"I got myself a 40, I got myself a shorty," he sang, on a track which describes the joys of a 40oz (1.2-litre) bottle of liquor and a pretty young woman.
Anyone looking to hip-hop for guidance on what to drink would receive the same advice: strong spirits - whisky, cognac and vodka - were the choice of all right-thinking young men with a “shorty” on their arm.
Lately, however, alongside more traditional subjects such as gang rivalries and gratuitous violence, rap artists have begun to extol the virtues of Moscato d’Asti, a sweet white wine from northern Italy that is low in alcohol and pairs well with souffle.
Vintners are now reporting an extraordinary boom in sales, perhaps the first time that hip-hop has exerted a significant influence on the wine market.
Drake, a star of North American rap music, extolled the virtues of “Lobster and shrimp/ and a glass of Moscato/ for the girl who’s a student and her friend who’s a model”, adding that they would “finish the whole bottle”.
His fellow rappers Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane also advised their followers to try Moscato, while Nelly, a Grammy award-winning musician from St Louis, has created his own branded version of the dessert wine with his “crew”, the St Lunatics. In the video for his single Country Ass Nigga, he can be seen holding his “Freaky Muscato” and taking a long swig from the bottle.
The result of these various paeans to Moscato has been an extraordinary rise in sales in an otherwise sluggish US wine market. At the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium last month, wine growers noted that while orders had risen 4.4 per cent last year, sales of Moscato were up 73 per cent. Wineries are scrambling to keep up with demand.
An early sign that hip-hop artists were discovering wine came when Kanye West rapped about “beasting off the Riesling”. A recent YouTube series in which rappers from New York held wine-tasting sessions suggested they were less interested in balance and bouquet and tended to focus on the wine’s strength, or “f . . k-up factor”.
On the other hand, the rapper Lil Jon has won an international award for his chardonnay. “For all yall sukkas that were hating on my wine, check this out,” he tweeted afterwards. “Get u some.”