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The Rush is on for High-Brow Bubbly

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RALEIGH — While the millennium does not technically start until 2001, the celebration of the year 2000 is expected to be a bigger and better New Year's Eve than ever. That is why everyone is rushing out for bigger and better bubbly.

Ford Hibbetts is stocking up. She has purchased four bottles of champagne for her 2000 celebration -- and we are not talking the cheap stuff.

"It's festive, and it's unusual," Hibbetts said. "I don't usually spend this much money on a bottle of wine, but this is way worth it."

Hibbetts is not alone. Lots of people want to make this New Year's Eve a special one, and champagne bottles are disappearing from store shelves.

"When it comes in, it flies right out. The demand is just incredible," says Raleigh Wine Merchant manager Kurt Saylor.

The owners of the Wine Merchant stores say the popularity of champagne started bubbling over last summer.

While there is plenty of cheaper brand champagne to go around, the expensive champagnes are starting to sell out.

One of the best-known names in champagne is Dom Perignon. It is also the brand that is selling the fastest.

"This is retailing for $139.95. It's a perfect example. I probably have six or seven bottles of this," Saylor said.

And the store may not be getting any more before December 31.

There are other brands that are big on taste. Some cost several hundred dollars; others have a more palatable price tag.

Saylor says a bottle of true French champagne will cost about $25, but you will not find many bottles. In fact, you may not see many quality champagnes left at all as the year 2000 draws near.

If you are thinking about a less expensive bottle of champagne, just be sure you see the words "fermented in the bottle" or "method champagnois" on it. That is an indication that the bottle you are buying is good quality.


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