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Post-pandemic demand for EU sparkling wine spiked. Will the trend continue in 2023?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the effects of climate change have winemakers across the European Union worried for the future.

(CN) — The world rings in the New Year with two important economic indicators: Champagne and fireworks. The European Union has tracked a 29% hike in sparkling wine exports since the Covid-19 pandemic began but took in 63% fewer fireworks during the same period, according to data published by Eurostat on Friday.

In all, the EU exported 636 million liters (168 million gallons) of sparkling wine outside the union in 2021, compared to 184 million liters (48.6 million gallons) in 2020 and 133 million liters (35.1 million gallons) in 2019. The EU's statistics agency will release data from 2022 toward the end of 2023.

"This increase comes after the first year of the pandemic, which significantly dampened wine trade growth as many bars and restaurants were entirely closed or partly closed throughout the year,” Eurostat said in a statement accompanying the report.

The EU exported 636 million liters of sparkling wine in 2021. (Eurostat infographic via Courthouse News)

U.S. drinkers accounted for 31% of EU sparkling wine exports, followed by the United Kingdom, which imbibed 28%.

The U.S. imported 34 million bottles of Champagne in 2021, according to the Champagne Bureau USA, a 64% increase from the previous year. For the first time in a decade, the U.S. returned to the list as France’s number one customer in 2021, spending $872.5 million on 322 million bottles of Champagne.

"Champagne has bounced back as the United States made progress towards recovery from the global pandemic, including a return to in-person celebrations and fewer restrictions at restaurants and bars across the country,” said Champagne Bureau USA director Jennifer Hall via email.

Italian prosecco was the EU's most popular sparkling wine export globally, per Eurostat, accounting for 43% exports, followed by Champagne, 15%, and Spanish cava, 10%. Champagne, cava, prosecco and Asti spumante from Italy all fall under the EU’s protected design of origin category.

Prosecco has been the most exported sparkling wine by volume for the last five years. Exports of the Italian wine decreased only slightly between 2019 and 2020, then jumped 24% in 2021, up to 273 million liters (72 million gallons).

Europeans clearly prefer their own sparkling wine, with members states importing just 1% of the amount exported, 5.8 million liters (1.5 million gallons).

But whether the trend continues into 2023 and beyond remains to be seen. Russia's invasion of Ukraine — soon to enter its second year — has EU winemakers worried since Ukrainians and Russians both consume vast amounts of European wine. Climate change has an effect on wine too, with relentless heat waves and wildfires in France and Spain threatening grape production.

And it appears New Year's celebrations in the wake of the pandemic contain fewer flashes, pops and bangs: EU member states imported 90 million euros ($96.3 million) worth of fireworks in 2021, nearly half the amount spent on fireworks in 2020.

Three countries accounted for 60% of the fireworks imported from outside the EU, with the Netherlands in the lead. The Netherlands imported 24% of fireworks from outside the EU, followed by Poland, 18%, and Denmark 18%.

Ninety-nine percent of the EU’s imported fireworks came from China, which provided the EU with 28,800 tons of decorative explosives.

EU members states imported 29,200 tons of fireworks throughout 2021, with 99% coming from China. (Eurostat infographic via Courthouse News)

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