Friday, September 4, 2009

Nothing to Pop a Cork Over

It's hard to celebrate these numbers if you're operating a vineyard in France's Champagne district. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Champagne producers agreed to pick 32% fewer grapes this year, leaving billions of grapes to rot on the ground, in a move to counter fizzling bubbly sales around the world amid the economic downturn.

. . . In 2008, as the recession set in, sales slipped to 322 million bottles, the first decline since 2000.

. . . growers say they resent suffering at the hands of what they call Champagne houses' overly ambitious sales expectations.
Even in good times, champagne sales face some tough obstacles.

One problem is that champagne-drinking is associated with hors d'oeuvres or dessert. It's not something that people are encouraged to drink throughout a meal (although the French will do so on rare occasions).

Another problem is that even moderately good champagne is pricey. While cheaper wines from Australia and Spain have helped to make red and white table wines more accessible to middle-income people, the lower end of the champagne market is pretty small -- and it generally isn't fit for anything but making a Mimosa.

If you're going to invest in a $25 to $35 bottle of champagne, you need to have at least one other adult, preferably 2-3, to finish it and make it worth the investment. On the other hand, it doesn't sting so much not to finish a $9 bottle of Garnacha because you didn't shell out that much.

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