Britain’s insatiable appetite for Champagne has been confirmed for the ninth year running with a record 34.9m bottles imported in 2004.

The UK remains the biggest export market for Champagne by a massive margin, drinking more than the second and third export markets, the United States (20.2m bottles) and Germany (11.5m bottles), put together.

The French domestic market remains the biggest in the world, some three times the size of the British export market.

According to figures released by the CIVC (Comite Interprofessionel de Champagne), since the Millennium total Champagne shipments to the UK have increased by 40%.

Quality has also gone up, with exports increasing by a massive 62% in value since 2000, the CIVC reports.

‘The British are not only drinking more bottles of Champagne but they are also trading up in style. It appears experimentation with different styles is fashionable, including vintage Champagne,’ Francoise Peretti of the Champagne Information Bureau said.

‘The British understand styles and the diversity of Champagne,’ she told decanter.com. ‘They are a very discerning market.’

She added that the British tend to create occasions to drink Champagne, whereas in other countries it is regarded as a drink purely for special occasions.

The sparkling wine market poses no real threat, Peretti said. ‘After all, when you go to a restaurant you don’t ask for a bottle of sparkling wine.’

Written by Adam Lechmere