Champagne-sellers toast record sales in 2021

France's champagne producers are toasting record sales, an unexpected turnaround from last year's doldrums.

The industry is expecting a turnover of 5.5 billion euros, or $6.2 billion, in a year - 10% more than the previous record.

The rush to raise a glass after restrictions eased this year could even leave some champagne lovers empty-handed over Christmas and New Year.

Benoit Melendez owns a champagne store in Paris.

"Since September, it has been crazy. We are having trouble meeting the demand. Many champagne-makers are not able to supply us."

Some economists and investors fear any new round of restrictions would stall sales again.

But sellers like Melendez say people have got more used to celebrating at home - which should keep demand high.

Customer Evelyne de Goriainoff likes to crack open the bubbles for dinner.

"No need for an occasion necessarily, I think a few bubbles can bring on a good mood and we like it, mostly as an aperitif. Very often as an aperitif, occasionally with dessert and, yes, every occasion is good."

Despite fears of supply hitches, there's no underlying shortage, because champagne producers hold large reserves that can be tapped to blend gradually for new bottles.

The pressure on availability has contributed to the spectacular 2021 sales, which Melendez says means prices of the luxury sparkling wine could go up.

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