Champagne consumption bubbles over

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Corks were popping during the weekend, and new figures show how Norwegians increasingly turn to champagne, cava and other bubbly beverages to toast good times, economic and otherwise. Sales of sparkling wine have tripled since 2004 in line with growing prosperity, and a shift in people’s lifestyles and eating habits.

Champagne and sparkling wine consumption tripled in Norway over the last decade. Sales of bubbly beverages peak around the May 17 National Day celebrations and New Year's Eve, as well as the June wedding season. PHOTO: Emily Woodgate/newsinenglish.no

Champagne and sparkling wine consumption tripled in Norway over the last decade. Sales of bubbly beverages peak around the May 17 National Day celebrations and New Year’s Eve, as well as the June wedding season. PHOTO: Emily Woodgate/newsinenglish.no

Sales are especially brisk at this time of year, with several holiday weekends topped by the 17th of May. The state-run Vinmonopolet stores were busy last week, also since it’s high season for weddings, confirmations and pre-summer company parties.

Sales remained relatively stagnant from the 1980s to the early 2000s, reported newspaper Aftenposten. At the time champagne was viewed as a “yuppie” drink, sipped as a status symbol by affluent Oslo west-siders. Then in the mid-2000s sparkling wine enjoyed a surge of popularity in bars and nightclubs, and people’s at-home drinking habits quickly adapted.

“Alcohol consumption goes very much in line with the economy,” said Jens Nordahl of Vinmonopolet, which controls all wine and liquor sales in Norway. “Around 2005 we saw the first signs of an underlying trend, namely a shift towards lighter drinks. It started in Oslo, but in the subsequent years the rest of the country followed suit.”

As a result of Norway’s economic prosperity, people are increasingly traveling to areas where light wines are more popular and developing a taste for them. Nordahl said people have also become more concerned with a healthy lifestyle, choosing beverages with lower calories, sugar and alcohol content than traditional wines. Norwegians’ eating habits have changed, and they have been choosing sparkling wines to match a growing preference for chicken and sushi. A warmer climate has a major impact on what people choose, as do various festive seasons.

Nordahl said sparkling wine and champagne sales peak around the May 17 and New Year celebrations, as well as in mid-June when the school year ends and the wedding season is in full swing.

Norwegians drinking more
It’s not just sparkling wines that have boomed in popularity. Champagne and the like still only make up a small portion of the total alcohol sales in Norway. Since 1993, sales and alcohol consumption have increased significantly. Researcher Ingeborg Rossow from the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (Statens institutt for rusmiddelforsking, SIRUS) said it’s related to a general increase in the standard of living, more travel, and the rise of wine reviews in the press.

“Wine journalism has become widespread since the 1980s,” Rossow told Aftenposten. “Today you’ll hardly find a newspaper in Norway which does not have a regular wine column with reviews and recommendations of wines.”

“We drink more wine on weekdays than before, something you can say is a shift towards continental drinking habits,” she continued. “At the same time we have been good at taking care of weekend drinking binges, which in no way is a part of what is called a continental drinking pattern.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate