Italian bubblies now outsell Champagne

If you are among those who uncorked a bottle of bubbly to usher in the new year, there's a strong chance it wasn't Champagne.

The iconic French wine was outsold in 2010 by Italian sparkling wines -- to the tune of 10 million bottles more, according to statistics just released by Assoenologi, the Italian winemakers association.

Assoenologi estimated global sales of spumante and similar wines collectively known as "bollicine" at 380 million bottles. Additionally, Coldiretti, an Italian agricultural association, said exports of spumante and prosecco, the most popular Italian sparkling wines, were up 17% in the first nine months of 2010.

"I see so many international sparkling wines, and many of them are just as good quality as Champagne," Beppe Juliano, editor of the Italian wine magazine Euopisa, told UPI.com. "The difference is that small producers from Italy or England are not charging you for a brand."

France's Champagne region has been producing less Champagne because of successive bad harvests. In addition, both Italian and English sparkling wines have entered the market at 25 to 75% less than their French counterparts.

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