Champagne loses fizz in Europe after tough year

PARIS — Europeans are finding fewer reasons to pop open a bottle of Champagne — even in France, which drinks twice as much of the sparkling wine per person than the U.S.

Sales were down 4.9 percent in France and 5 percent elsewhere in the European Union compared to 2011, according to the latest figures from CIVIC, the national association of growers and producers of Champagne. But elsewhere, export sales were up 3 percent, buoyed by the United States and Japan, where the the drink is enjoying a surge in popularity.

The French are still Champagne’s best customers: They drank a total of 175.7 million bottles from November 2011 to 2012, according to industry figures — enough for nearly three bottles a year for every man, woman and child.

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