Champagne lovers are in for a treat this year – lower prices. The glut of champagne grapes has caused makers to slash prices – especially on the high end.

In Champagne, this is a year for conversions. It is not a particularly good time to be selling the king of bubbles. Shipments of Champagne to the United States plummeted 41.2 percent from January to August, according to the Champagne Bureau, the U.S. arm of the region’s official trade group. Americans are the second-largest drinkers of Champagne outside France, which means a lot of bottles gathering dust in cellars in Reims and Epernay. That has opened a window to slash prices. To those of us who always wish for Champagne to be just a bit more affordable, it is a lucky year – and a chance to get out of our Champagne comfort zones. Lackluster sales are partially a recession hangover, of course, but even as money returns to wine drinkers’ pockets, there is still a hesitancy to conspicuously drink the real stuff, especially at the high end. So prices are being squeezed down to size. – From San Francisco Chronicle