At New Year the corks will pop as usual in Switzerland and bubbles will flow forth, but champagne is no longer king of the sparkling drinks.
The financial crisis has forced people to tighten their belts, and champagne producers are set for a drop in sales of up to 16 per cent for the year.
“Moderation is the name of the game for many customers, especially when it comes to champagne,” said Jürg Welti from Globus, a fine-food store. “They’re making do with other sparkling wines.”
Marco Boppart from the Swiss Champagne Association fondly remembers the late-1980s boom when some ten million bottles of champagne were shifted a year. “Consumption has now stabilised at five to six million,” he said.
“In the German-speaking part of the country champagne is considered a party wine – something you drink when celebrating. And if there are fewer occasions to celebrate, less is drunk.”
The Swiss are the third biggest drinkers of bubbly, knocking back three-quarters of a bottle each a year – largely thanks to those in French-speaking parts, where Boppart says less excuse is needed to crack open a bottle.
“In French-speaking Switzerland champagne increasingly accompanies meals,” he said.
The good news for revellers for whom a party isn’t a party without champagne is that bargains are to be found.
“Bottles that previously cost €13 (SFr19.3) can now be picked up for €10,” according to Sébastien Robert from French department store Leclerc. “Some even dropped to €8.50 over the party season.”
swissinfo.ch and agencies