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Champagne-swilling Swedes party like it's 2006

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19:51 CET+01:00
If the health of the Swedish economy can be measured in the amount of champagne consumed, then the country is enjoying an unprecedented boom.

According to preliminary statistics from Swedish alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget, Swedes have never consumed as much champagne as they did during 2006.

"Most of the evidence indicates that we will beat sales for 1999, the year before the new millennium," said Systembolaget spokesman Björn Rydberg.

Swedes bought an estimated 713,000 litres of bubbly in last year, Systembolaget calculates. This compares to 634,000 litres in 2005 and only 287,000 litres in 1996.

The total amount of fizz consumed in Sweden is likely to be even higher, as Systembolaget's figures do not include champagne bought abroad and drunk in Sweden. In the year to November, 503,000 bottles were sold, an increase of 18 percent on 2005.

In 2005, one third of the year's champagne sales were made in December - the projections for this year are based on sales for last month matching those of a year ago.

Where champagne leads, other sparkling wines are following, with sales of wines such as cava and sparkling chardonnay rising 14 percent. Systembolaget's Björn Rydberg puts the rise down to increased prosperity:

"People are earning more and have more available cash, and this is reflected in our sales," he said.

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