A Worldwide Champagne Shortage May Impact Your NYE Celebrations

With New Year’s Eve just weeks away, suppliers are scrambling.

December 15, 2021
Photo by Bobbin Lin

I was recently shopping for a bottle of wine for my Grandpa’s birthday over Thanksgiving weekend when the shelf displaying a few bottles of Veuve Clicquot caught my eye. I wasn’t drawn to it because of the gleaming orange labels, a color which I believe would have been called “macaroni and cheese” in a box of 64 Crayola crayons (sharpener included), nor its status as a go-to bubbly. What I saw and felt was quite literal sticker stock—$59.99. II don’t exactly keep tabs on the price of champagne, but I know that a bottle of Veuve is always, always priced at around $50. By around, I mean maybe it is $48.99 or $51.99, depending on where I’m shopping. But a $10 increase was significant.

This is just one reminder of the fact that we’re experiencing a champagne shortage right now. The shortage is a result of the one-two punch that is global warming and the supply chain crisis, due to the ongoing global pandemic (no big deal). “There was a surplus of champagne just before COVID…and then COVID happened and then there was copious amounts of drinking of all kinds of wine. When the world reopened, the one thing that I noticed moved the fastest was champagne. People were feeling festive, which created high demand,” Paola Embry, certified sommelier and Wine Director of the Wrigley Mansion, told me in an interview.

Every commodity—from my favorite 50 percent salted cashews at Trader Joe’s to SUVS—is in short supply right now. The demand isn’t the problem. “We have had two really, really small harvests in champagnes, which means that for the next two years, there will be even less champagne,” says Embry. “It’s the perfect storm.”

There are thousands of cases of champagne on ships stuck along the coast of San Diego. Stateside distributors, including wine shop and restaurant owners, are simply unable to access the shipping containers that have been cradling the supply for months now; on top of that, they’re also having to pay exorbitant storage and penalty fees. So if you want a lot of champagne, well, I hope you know how to sail a large ship and like going to the zoo.

But the problem is not merely rooted in celebratory drinkers. The 2021 growing season was one of the worst in recent history for champagne, which means that there will continue to be a shortage, even once the distributors are able to stock already-bottled champagne. The Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which is the official governing trade body of champagne, estimated that frost destroyed approximately 30 percent of champagne's crop for all of 2021 in just April and May alone. Mildew destroyed an additional 25 to 30 percent of all crops, while hail damaged thousands of acres of vineyards.

Embry predicts that champagne lovers will still experience the effects of these shortages throughout all of 2022 and well into 2023. However, she doesn’t see the issue as entirely a bad thing. If the bottles from the big champagne houses (you know the ones) become harder to find, her hope is that consumers will be inclined to try champagne, cava, and other sparkling wines from lesser-known, but entirely reputable growers. “I think the consumer is going to become wiser because they’re trying new things,” she says.

Does this mean that New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be ruined? Let’s not be dramatic. Branch out from your usual bubbly, and you may end up sipping something even better.

If you can’t find champagne, what will you toast with instead? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kristin
  • Cherrie
Former Food52 Staff Editor


Kristin December 15, 2021
Let's Go Brandon... :-/
Cherrie December 17, 2021
Yes, Let's ALLLLL go where?! The things that you do in secret will be made known. What an amazing finding....please Let's confirm in person the day, time and place...Shhhh! I'm ready and waiting, it's a DATE! 👏💪🚶‍♂️
Kristin December 17, 2021
Not completely sure I understand your comment, but I'm guessing you feel you've put me in my place. Yay you.