Though I speak, as both my friends will attest, as an unparalleled fan of the stuff, I find myself crumpling with relief at the news that we appear to be hitting peak prosecco. Although nearly 36m gallons were sold in the past 12 months of the cheaper, pretty-much-as-tasty and certainly-as-effective alternative to champagne that has come to dominate parties, supermarket aisles and the luxury wine market over the past decade, this represents a much smaller increase in sales than any year since 2011; just 5%, when producers have been used to bubbly double-digit growth.
My relief stems from the hope that – while we will remain awash with the effervescent elixir itself – we may start to see the end of the surrounding merchandise. It has been getting ridiculous. You can’t move – especially if you’ve had a few – for the things.
On Etsy, Notonthehighstreet and any other creatively unsupervised site, tote bags and T-shirts proclaiming your penchant abound. As golf is the spoiling of a good walk, so are slogans the ruination of innumerable perfectly fine tops. “But first prosecco” is at least admirably succinct – and as good a philosophy as any to sport across your chest if sport across your chest a philosophy you must. But even if you squint at it through a third glass, “Be there in a prosecco” barely makes the cut as legitimate wordplay. Gym gear announcing “Push ups + prosecco” is too cavalier an approach to health and safety for my taste, and alternatives reading “No pain, no prosecco” are wrong on 17 levels.
I own a T-shirt that reads “Espresso then prosecco”. I don’t know how. I wear it, too. This is the way the world ends.
And yet, the clothes are not the worst of it. Oliver Bonas sells a “Prosecco pong” game (it’s like beer pong, but the glasses are posher and you play it with – you may be ahead of me here – prosecco) for £15 and a prosecco lip balm (£6, reduced – further fuel for my peak marching hopes – to £4). I got one for Christmas. It tasted of despair.
You can buy customisable clocks and choose the hour whose numeral should be replaced with the ribtickling legend “Prosecco o’clock”. You can buy a doormat on whose unforgiving coir is writ “Come in if you have prosecco”, though within the reader-visitor’s mind this is most likely to translate as “Go home and drink to forget”.
And finally, you can buy prosecco crisps. Yes. Last Christmas Marks & Spencer sold prosecco-flavoured crisps scattered with edible gold stars. I ate them in my T-shirt, through my lip balm and tears. They were tangy, like a grownup Skip. I would buy them again, and this is why I drink.