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#91 - Fine Wine

#91 - Fine Wine

Fine Wine
Price: French Lessons

One of life’s great joys when you are “comfortable” is being able to distinguish upon which side of the hill grapes were grown, weather patterns that summer and on which day they were picked by delicately inhaling. Bonus points to those who can name a delightful boulangerie, a five-star hotel and a helipad within a five mile radius of the vineyard. Few topics can enthrall the wealthy the way that debating the finer points of a vintage Chateau Lafite can but be warned, there’s hardly any point to speaking about a bottle corked more recently than the Reagan administration.

Taking a stroll through your local gas bar could lead you to believe that all good wines come in a box or have catchy names like Night Raider, Fat Bastard or Naked Grape. You would be mistaken. Take a gander through the cellar of a connoisseur and you will discover that wines have unpronounceable names from places you’ve never traveled. This is all part of the charm of a great wine, the more obscure it is the more valuable it becomes to the truly rich. Wine is a game of one-upmanship where exclusivity and rarity are as important as an iron-clad prenup and a divorce lawyer with blood-drenched fangs. Naturally, one never admits to buying a bottle but refers to the cases secured at their favorite auction house.

Of course, the challenge as always, is to use your cursory knowledge as the bridge to gaining acceptance by the upper crust. While you would think that fitting in with a group of people that drink all evening would be a simple task, recall that like a first wife, one always spits and never swallows at a tasting so you will not be able to use inebriated-induced charm to win over your tannin swilling compatriots. As gaining superior vineyard knowledge requires time, money, patience and the equivalent of a PhD in meteorology, one must turn to collecting and innuendo to make nice. My best advice is to speak as though drinking your wine is beneath you and you are sure to turn heads. Remain vague and imply that it is crass to discuss the contents of your cellar. Furthermore, refer to cellars that you keep in various countries. Seek to illuminate your flock of oenophiles by imparting upon them the famous words of Lawrence Jamieson, that you collect wine to ensure it is properly cared for but that it is too valuable to drink and too dear to sell. While deep knowledge of tasting notes is impressive, your mystery and aloofness could make you the most sought after vintage in the manor.

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#67 - Honorary Degrees

#67 - Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees
Price: “Donations”

Honorary degrees are the academic equivalent of a blowjob after an expensive meal. In exchange for the celebrity and notoriety that a public visit brings to a university campus, the Dean will present framed parchment to the wealthy guest which is certainly more appropriate than dropping to their knees out of gratitude for the visit and the national media attention it brings. For the rich, honorary degrees represent bragging rights and provide the opportunity to showcase how far up the social ladder they have climbed.

Just as there is status and hierarchy associated with one’s alma mater, there is a pecking order among universities and their faculties which the wealthy instinctively know. This means that receiving an honorary doctorate in literature from Montana State University is a little like receiving the award for Miss Congeniality at the State Fair and doesn’t carry the same weight as an honorary doctorate of astrophysics from MIT. All the same, there are two schools of thought among the wealthy when amassing honorary accolades; accept only high quality, Ivy League honors or become an unapologetic degree whore. Naturally, if they are able to combine the two, they will have achieved the equivalent of walking on the moon.

Keep in mind, these pseudo-academic plaudits are an outstanding cornerstone for developing a relationship with the rich. Remember, rich people like to be doted upon so take advantage of their vanity. Compile a list of notable honorary recipients from impressive institutions then parlay this knowledge into a compliment regardless of how transparent your attempts at flattery are. For example, mention that Nelson Mandela, Al Gore and Quincy Jones have received honorary degrees so your rich friend is in good company. They will burst with pride at the comparisons and will be happy to engage in conversation. Importantly, do not under any circumstances ask about the size of donation they may have provided because despite the motto at Victoria University of Wellington, Sapientia magis auro desideranda, when it comes to honorary degrees, gold is actually preferable to wisdom!

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