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Friday, September 18, 1998 Published at 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK

Business: Your Money

Champagne sparkles in Millennium light

Splashing out on champagne is becoming the norm in the UK

As the countdown to the Millennium ticks away, the UK is increasingly becoming a nation of champagne connoisseurs.

A survey by the research group Mintel has found sales of sparkling wine have jumped by 30% over the past five years.

Rather than spending money on any old fizzy plonk, 75% of the money Brits spend on sparkling wine goes on quaffing champagne.

Grand Marque brands on the rise

Branded champagne such as Moet et Chandon is increasingly popular among a discerning public, while sales of vintage wine rose from 6% to 13% last year, Mintel found.

[ image: Toasting the millenium in style]
Toasting the millenium in style
Simon Walker of Justerini and Brooks says there are a number of reasons behind this phenomenon.

"The strong pound has meant that champagne is more affordable for a lot of people. There are plenty of wines around for £10 or less," he said.

"Secondly, the Millennium factor, with customers stock-piling wines ahead of the year 2000."

Anthony Hughes, Mintel's market analyst, said the last boom in champagne sales was at the end of the 1980s, when yuppies acquired a taste for more expensive brands.

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