Even the French Are Drinking Less Champagne Because of Inflation

Bubbling inflation seems to have put France off Champagne.

The nation’s sparkling-wine producers sent out fewer bottles of bubbly last year as rising costs bound household budgets, Bloomberg reports. Foreign shipments from the region fell 8.2 percent in 2023, while domestic shipments dropped to the lowest point in almost four decades (discounting 2020, which was punctured by Covid lockdowns), according to producer representative Comité Champagne. The French haven’t ditched their love of Champagne entirely, however: They’re still the leading consumers of their sparkling wines, accounting for over 40 percent of shipments.

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Vintners more than made up for that lower volume, though. Total shipments may have fallen to 299 million bottles last year, but producers actually sold more expensive labels globally. Doing so kept overall Champagne revenue above the $6.6 billion record achieved in 2022, Comite says.

Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, and Lanson are just a few French producers that experienced surging demand as Covid restrictions eased, an effect seen across the luxury industry. The producers’ shipping numbers have now returned to pre-pandemic levels, says Comité. The high-end sector, meanwhile, could grow by as much as 4 percent this year, down from 8 percent in 2023, according to consulting firm Bain & Company.

The decrease in France’s wine shipments mirrors a potential slowdown in the luxury market, which is expected to hit $1.6 trillion in its biggest year ever, say some experts. Last October, LVMH saw its stock fall 7 percent following the release of its quarterly revenue growth, the largest dip since the beginning of 2020, Forbes reported; the last quarter also showed signs of a decline in sales due to economic issues in China, the Israel-Gaza crisis, and an increase in interest rates, according to a report from Bain & Company and Altagamma. Above-average growth rates, inflation, and a decrease in aspirational shoppers are all key factors that could lead to a downturn, RBC Capital Markets reports.

Luckily, our wine editors Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jensen don’t expect there to be a lack of demand for bubbly. In fact, the duo anticipates a “bubble boom” is headed our way soon (according to their 2024 wine-world predictions), meaning we’ll start to experiment with a variety of sparkling-wine styles and regions such as Spanish Cava, Trentodoc, and California sparkling. Looks like we may be looking outside Champagne for our new favorite bottle soon enough.

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