Local News

Champagne in High Demand for Millennium Celebration

Posted December 30, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— Computer users have their Y2K problem. Now, so do vintners. Next year at this time, good champagne will be hard to come by.

The worldwide supply is as stable as ever, but because so many people will celebrate the new millennium next December, demand is about to go way up.

"The champagne supply is not going to be able to meet the demand, especially champagne from France," says champagne retailer Priscilla Livingston. "If you want that very, very special bottle of champagne, you probably need to go ahead and buy it by April or May."

Good champagne and sparkling wine cannot be made overnight. The better brands are aged for at least three years, so it is too late to make more.

In spite of the lopsided market, Livingston does not expect to raise her prices.

"In fact, I'll probably offer some promotions the first three to four months of the year through my newsletter or whatever to try to get people to go ahead and get their champagne so I can satisfy my customer base," she says.

Consumers may not notice the champagne shortage. There are lots of companies making sparkling wine, which can take the place of the high-end versions.

Still, some people insist on the real thing to celebrate the only millennium that any of them will see.

"For that special occasion, if you're going to experience it you might as well get a good bottle, I think," Livingston says.

While true champagne has to come from a specific region of France, several countries are making their own versions. Italy, Spain, even Australia are competing for the champagne market.