Champagne has got its fizz back: In the first three quarters of the year, France's champagne industry shipped 192 million bottles; tack on the boffo sales that typically occur during the holiday season, and that number will likely rise to levels last seen in 2007, when 339 million bottles were shipped. That's excellent news for an industry that got slammed by the economy in 2008 and 2009, forcing makers of even the finest labels to slash production to prevent prices from cratering—which meant leaving a sea of grapes, unpicked, to rot.
The Wall Street Journal reports that champagne's good fortune is reflective of what's happening in the larger luxury-goods industry, where sales of brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Gucci are up. But with the euro crisis still shaking the legs of Europe, champagne makers aren't exactly popping a bottle themselves. One cautious wine merchant says he's trying to recast champagne's image: as a drink intended not as a celebration, but as "a means to escape everyday life."