What's All This About Champagne Shortages On Valentine's Day?

Will you be able to get enough bubbly in to celebrate with your boo?
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Valentine’s Day is steadily approaching. You’ve nabbed a cheeky card for your love interest. You’ve thought about a Valentine’s present that says just enough but not too much. Now all you need is to get the bubbly in.

Except you might have some trouble with that, according to reports about an ongoing champagne shortage that could just affect our evening of romance.

“Most Champagne Houses are struggling to match supply-demand and since we started operating over 20 years ago, it has never been like this before,” says Paul Higgins, director of Sparkling Direct, who warns that all the big Champagne houses have “very limited stocks” of both Rose and Brut.

Higgins says ongoing global supply chain issues – impacted by lockdowns, logistics and Brexit – “may get worse before they get better” – not least because of the precarious situation in Eastern Europe. In particular, he warns, “Rose Champagne continues to be in short supply this Valentine’s Day.”

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A Champagne shortage around Christmas and the New Year was reported as early as August 2021, when one trade publication forecasted a worrying dip in shipment of around 18% – or 50 million bottles.

Despite suggestions that the Champagne market collapsed during the pandemic, Andrew Hawes, chairman of the country’s Champagne Agents Association, told The Drinks Business the situation was more nuanced.

“While globally speaking the market was down, it wasn’t as down as much as I think people presumed,” he said. “The established premium houses had a good year – Bollinger, for example, sold more than it ever has before in the UK.”

Harvey Uppal, director and lead buyer at VIP Bottles tells HuffPost UK that the industry could see the shortages coming, due to an actual increase in online Champagne sales online at the height of the pandemic, when bubbly drinkers who would usually be quaffing fizz in bars and restaurants couldn’t do so, during the shutdown of the hospitality sector.

“Our online retail business saw our Champagne sales step up by over 50% in 2020,” says Uppal. “Combined with lockdown restrictions and disturbed supply chains in France, we are seeing a knock-on effect and thus the current shortage. From everything we know from our suppliers, this is set to continue into 2022,” Uppal says.

Champagne retailers like his source their stock directly from prestige brands, such as Moët Hennessy and Laurent Perrier. “Due to the exclusivity and limited production of Champagne, the supply chain has been more impacted than other alcohol products,” he explains. “We have seen a similar effect with our Cognac supplies, which has a similar regional exclusivity.”

So do you need to bulk buy your bubbly?

Uppal says you’ll still be able to find what you want – but you might need to prepare to pay more for the pleasure.

“Champagne will certainly still be available, but the main impact is we are going to see price rises to fit the demand/supply issue,” he says.

“These price increases have already happened (for example, Laurent Perrier’s iconic Cuvêe Rose has seen a 10% increase since the start of the shortage) – and these will only go up at shortages continue.”

If you’re struggling to find your fave, Uppal suggests looking for different brands. “There are also alternatives available – Nyetimber is an multi-award winning Cuvee made right here in the UK, so supply issues are not such a problem. We also love the Luc Belaire range – sparkling wine made in France, a modern and affordable take on Champagne presented in beautiful bottles popular with the celebrity set,” Uppal says.

We’ve also taken a quick peek at Amazon, where there are plenty of options ... for now. Here are three good bets.

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee
Stock up on the expert's favourite. You can currently pick up a three bottle case of the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee.

Get your case for £133.88
Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial, Gift Box 75 cl
If you only think pink, this classic Moët & Chandon Rosé is the gift for you – currently with a 17% saving.

Get it for £38 (was £46)
Thomson & Scott Noughty Organic Sparkling Wine
This delicious alcohol-free sparkling wine is a fave of ours – perfect for the non-drinkers among you. It's also Vegan and Halal certified.

Get it for £8.99 from Amazon (or the Rose for £9.30 from Ocado)