UNLESS you have been stuck on a desert island with no television, radio, computer or even a calendar, it has probably been relentlessly pounded into your brain that a once-in-a-millennium event is about to happen. Apart from worrying whether the entire world is Y2K-compliant, and if it is better to fly away to an exotic, remote locale or spend New Year's Eve holed up at home with a two-week cache of food and money, the big question people are pondering is whether or not there is going to be enough champagne to toast the start of 2000. Champagne makers and suppliers were predicting at least a year ago that there would not be enough bubbly for all the millennium revellers to pop the corks on their favourite bottles. They cautioned that drinkers should lay in a supply as early as possible, because demand - always up around the Christmas and New Year holidays - would be even greater this year, with celebrants wanting more than ever to make it a night to remember. Jean Berchon, vice-president of communications and heritage of Moet & Chandon, said that for brut non-vintage 'standard' champagnes, there is little chance of running out. 'In the Champagne region at the beginning of the 90s, we were faced with a worldwide recession. At the same time the harvests were quite important, so we were in the situation where we had more stocks than sales. We were allowed by the governing body of the Champagne region, the CIVC [Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne], to stock some reserve wines in order to answer the demands, if the demand were to grow bigger. 'This is exactly the current situation: we now have more demand than supply. So we have been allowed to take these reserve stocks [and sell them]. Talking of non-vintage champagnes, I think the shortage will be little.' Of course, if you have the taste - and the cash - for the expensive stuff, you may want to order the rare champagnes and special vintages now. Mr Berchon observed: 'If you want [rare bottles] such as vintage champagnes, roses or other special cuvees such as Dom Perignon, in this case there is a real shortage, since last year. Those wines are very rare, even in normal situations.' David Webster agreed. As managing director for Remy, his company represents Charles Heidsieck and Piper Heidsieck. 'There's no particular risk of running out, except at the higher ends. The vintage and rarer champagnes might be in tight supply, and this is something that can extend into next year.' To avoid disappointing customers, Mr Webster has ordered extra champagne, which should be delivered to Hong Kong by the middle of next month. 'We've ordered much more, more than double compared to last year. But last year was depressed, so it's not as dramatic as it sounds. 'There have already been a few requests by customers [for special vintages], but Hong Kong people are notoriously last-minute. They might ask for something mid-November, but by that time it will be too late. What we have on hand will be what's available; you can't just call and ask them to send another case.' He added: 'We're fairly confident we have enough stock of 'standard' champagnes, it's the older vintages - 1990 and back - that are going to be fairly tight. 'What's available is already made, you can't just turn on the tap. There's a heavy demand for vintage champagnes, not just in Hong Kong, but in global terms, and there's a premium demand on the supply. We're going to have to fight with other countries. Hong Kong is a tiny market in global terms, with the depressed market. North America has a strong economy, and so there's a willingness to spend on more expensive bottles. This used to be the case in Asia. But we're still hopeful; the mood might get better when people start to realise this is a once-in-a-lifetime event.' Jeanette Paterson, public relations and wine liaison manager of Watson's Wine Cellars, feels the market for champagnes to celebrate the millennium is already strong and growing: 'Things are beginning to hot up, and people are starting to buy the vintage champagnes as well. 'I don't know if they're celebrating early, or they're going to save it for the millennium. We have an order in the fax machine right now: it's for two cases of 90 Dom Perignon and 90 Pol Roger. That's a lot; they retail for between $1,380 and $1,500 per bottle.' They have ordered extra champagnes to fill anticipated demand. 'We've ordered a lot more, I don't want to say exactly how much, but a few hundred per cent more [than last year], and that's only champagne, it doesn't include sparkling. At Watson's, we have over 100 to choose from, including some grandes marques [comprising the top 27 champagne houses]. We've brought in some we've never had before. We've been buying as much as possible. 'We're going for volume sales and the best value for our customers. If people say that they bought the 90 Dom Perignon last year for under $900 and why is it going for so much now, well, that's because we have to pay more for it, too. The margins we're taking for champagne are very low. We've already discounted the Masse house champagne to $178.' Ms Paterson hopes they are bringing in enough. 'We're hoping we can make people happy. If we don't have their first choice of the grandes marques, then we hope we'll have their second.'