Maybe it’s because I was born in August, but I’ve always found summer to be the most celebratory season. Between weddings, graduations and just general day drinking, the season offers a constant stream of toast-worthy occasions. While these moments often call for a glass of bubbly, troubling recent whispers of a global Prosecco shortage have been making waves among consumers.
While Prosecco is often referred to as “cheap Champagne,” there are actually many differences between the two types of sparkling wine. Prosecco, a product primarily from the Veneto region of Italy, and Champagne, hailing from its eponymous region in France, vary both in their methods of production and flavor profiles. Prosecco, produced using the more cost efficient Charmat-Martinotti method, typically has a sweeter, fruitier taste. This difference—plus its lower price tag—makes Prosecco a popular choice, particularly in the summer months. Just look at the sales of Prosecco, which increased by 27% last year with 60% of the 300 million bottles produced getting exported.
During last month’s London Wine Fair, Roberto Cremonese, export manager for Italian Winery Bisol said that the ever-increasing demand for Prosecco, coupled with last year’s poor grape yields, could spell trouble for producers. If the claim is true, Prosecco prices could increase while availability of the wine plummets. However, comments from other industry executives suggest that while 2014 did see particularly harsh weather conditions, there was no real impact on Prosecco crops.
In fact, industry experts believe that this rumor may actually be a well executed financial strategy. With consumers bracing for a scarcity of Prosecco, winemakers would therefore be justified in increasing their prices. Given the relentlessly expanding market for the wine, a move like that could turn out to be extremely profitable. Plus, with a growing demand and relatively stable supply, the expectation of a shortage among consumers might lessen the pressure on winemakers to increase production.
Since we’re technically in the middle of the great Prosecco shortage of 2015, we won’t know for sure if this scare was legitimate until the summer’s over and producers release their sales statistics. In the meantime, there are measures to take if you’re feeling particularly worried about Proseccopocalypse. Sample some of the many varieties of sparkling wines as a replacement. Rosé, the veritable wine of summer, is another crisp and refreshing alternative to the fizzy stuff. If there’s just no substitute for your Prosecco fix, you can always stock up on a few cases before prices (possibly) increase.
Until that day comes, though, relax and have a glass of Prosecco. That’s what I’ll be doing.
Colette Bloom is a writer living in New York. In the eighth grade, she read the first half of Atlas Shrugged but then it fell out of her backpack and the spine cracked and she figured it would be easier to just watch TV. Follow her on Twitter @cobloom.