YOU know you are in for something unusual when you turn up for dinner and are greeted at the door by a Frenchman in a cape with a huge, shiny pendant on his chest.
I wanted to say "nice jewels" but resisted. My wife had reminded me it was a black-tie do and to behave.
So I did as I sat through an hour-long pre-dinner ceremony held at the Shangri-La Hotel late last month, attended by movers and shakers such as Sincere Watch's Tay Liam Wee and hotelier Tang Wee Kit.
Presided over by the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, which means Order of the Hills of Champagne in French, the society promotes bubbly and creates a network of fans through chapters in different countries, tastings and other activities.
The occasion was the launch of its chapter here and the induction of more than 20 Singaporeans as members of the society.
It is the second chapter in Asia after Japan.
The proceedings began with a trumpeter heralding the arrival of the French office bearers. It was slightly surreal watching them walk regally through a sea of nearly 150 guests, wearing white woollen capes with a black velvet trim,accessorised with different pendants signifying their pecking order within the society.
As they took their positions on stage, prospective members had to declare their allegiance to champagne. Then, they were inducted with a knighting-like gesture by the Commandeur brandishing a pomponne resembling a gigantic encrusted champagne glass.
The whole affair was formal, mediaeval even.
Then again, the Order has its roots in the mid-17th century when a group of young aristocrats founded a society dedicated to good wines. Because they were particularly fond of wines from the three hillsides of Champagne, the association's mission took shape.
After disappearing shortly before the French Revolution, the Order was revived in 1956, this time with support from champagne houses. Since then, some 4,000members have joined the Order.
In Singapore, Mr Keith Kuo, the society's consul general, is now awaiting approval from the authorities before he opens it up for membership.
Famous in wine circles for his impeccably organised dinners, he took guests that evening through a dinner paired with rare vintages from Perrier Jouet,Salon, Delamotte, Deutz, Nicolas Feuillatte, Mumm, Billecart-Salmon and Moet & Chandon.
Mr Kuo said: "Our campaign is that champagne should be viewed as a very nice wine which you can drink any time, not just something you pull out for celebrations."
It is a message echoed by Mr Frederic Dufour, executive vice-president of Moet & Chandon, when he swept into town a week later to launch his Grand Vintage2000 at a dinner for 80 guests from Singapore and Malaysia.
"Champagne is not tap water. There's only so much we can make to sell," he said. "But what we want to do is change perceptions from it being a drink for exceptional occasions to being a lifestyle drink."
Describing Singapore as a window to the rest of the region, he is confident that it will follow a similar trend observed in Japan.
"Twenty years ago in Japan, they said it would be tough to sell champagne because it had bubbles and was difficult to drink," he said. "Now you see drinkers, mostly women aged 25 to 35, who work, travel and like to go out. And when they do, they order champagne because it's part of their lifestyle."
At $115 a pop for his new vintage, it does not seem like it will be an everyday drink for most. But with market sentiment here being so buoyant, he might not have to wait as long for his forecast to come true.
For details about the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, e-mail email@example.com
Moet & Chandon's Grand Vintage 2000 is available at leading wine shops.