It has long been the drink of choice for weddings, birthdays or a romantic meal for two, but champagne may now be losing some of its sparkle as drinkers opt for cheaper alternatives, new figures suggest.
Some 307 million bottles of prosecco, made from the Glera grape and produced in northern Italy, were sold worldwide during the year, compared to 304 million for champagne, the OVSE said.
The news is the latest blow to hit France’s champagne producers, who have seen sales plummet in recent years amid economic turmoil in Europe and growing competition from rivals such as prosecco and Spanish sparkling wine cava.
Sales by volume of champagne fell by 1.5 percent in 2013, following a 4.4 percent drop the year before, according to figures from the champagne trade association CIVC.
In contrast, prosecco sales soared by 11.5 percent in volume last year, with revenue up 16 percent.
A decline in demand in champagne’s home market in France, which accounts for more than half of all champagne sold, has been a major problem for producers in recent years, with the country’s economic troubles seeing consumers cutting back on luxury goods.
But champagne has also lost ground to its rivals in important export markets such as the US and UK.
Last year, British wine retailer Majestic reported prosecco sales were up by 39 percent in the six months to the end of September 2013, while champagne sales remained flat.
“The growth of prosecco is a longterm trend but it has really stepped up this year,” chief executive Steve Lewis told the UK’s Guardian newspaper at the time.
“It’s become a really social drink which is not just for celebrations but for drinking with friends and family on a Friday and Saturday night.”