As 2010 draws to a close, many consumers are choosing to express their optimism for 2011 through a slightly better bottle of bubbly.
That's a change from the past few years, when celebrants chose cheaper options for ringing in the new year.
"I think that they will go up to about $60," said Joe O'Keefe, owner of Wine 101 in Wake Forest. "Anything above $60, it's got to be a special occasion. But I've seen a lot of people who normally spend $10, $12 for a bottle of wine, and they'll pick up that $30 bottle, no problem."
It's a welcome change for wine sellers, who have struggled in recent years as the economy has kept people from spending.
Still, merchants say that although consumers may be loosening up a little, they are still frugal in their buying decisions.
"They want the most for their money," said Doug Diesing, owner of the Seaboard Wine Warehouse in Raleigh. "We're seeing a lot of sales in alternative sparkling wines."
Hot sellers for Diesing this year include beverages like prosecco and other sparkling wines that are not technically champagnes because they were not made in the Champagne region of France. Those types of items can cost $20 or $30 per bottle instead of hundreds of dollars for a bottle of some true champagnes.
"You get sort of the pleasures of drinking champagne at a fraction of the price," he said.
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