THE world is still in the midst of the pandemic, but it seems many of us are still adopting a glass half full - or indeed almost overflowing - attitude as despite the gloomy forecasts, champagne sales are soaring.



Sales of fizz are on track for a record year as stores and restaurants buy in bottles following lockdowns and replenish their stocks after the ongoing restrictions that have hit hospitality and retail worldwide.


Exactly how good are these sales?

Jean-Marie Barillere, the co-president of the CIVC Champagne industry association - Le Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne - who is also president of Champagne brand group UMP, said over the weekend that the sector is headed for sales of 315 million bottles this year, marking a turnover of £4.7 billion (5.5 billion euros).


If confirmed at the year’s end?

It would beat the current annual sales record of 5 billion euros, reached in pre-pandemic 2019, before Covid struck.


Any snags?

One issue clouding the glass is the uncertainty over the new coronavirus strain, Omicron, and its potential to influence lockdown restrictions if it proves to be more virulent than previous variants.


And we are specifically talking about champagne?

Yes, not any old glass of bubbles, but the real deal. Champagne, of course, is the sparkling wine produced in the Champagne wine region of France, with the area known for its still wines dating back centuries to Roman times; becoming associated with royalty - and luxury - from the 17th century onward where leading producers endeavoured to associate their offerings with nobility and royalty.


What about the bubbles?

Mon chéri, the French prefer the term ‘effervescence' to describe the bubbles in Champagne, which they feel “expresses the right connotations of movement and liveliness, intensity and joy”, according to CIVC.


Is the outlook joyful?

The industry body is uncertain. Barillere said: “Two weeks ago I would have told you that the outlook for the festive season was excellent but the new variant has dampened our optimism.” He added that there was now a danger of a "terrible halt" to plans for end-of-year festivities, which might mean not so many corks being popped on December 31.



This year has already been beset by lockdowns across the world, as well as harsh spring frosts that were followed by summer rainfall that hit France’s vineyards hard, with some set to forecast harvest losses of as much as a third for 2021. And yet, sales are on the up.


What’s the reason?

Champagne has to age for more than a year and producers tend to stock millions of bottles in their cellars to ensure ongoing supplies, so there was no shortage of fizz to go around. Barillere said strong exports - notably to English-speaking countries - boosted the sales.


So while we have been staying at home…?

It seems many of us have looked for a little luxury. Barillere told Agence France-Presse: "The pandemic has created new consumer habits; everything related to entertaining at home is in high demand, including champagne.”