Sparkling wine, an everyday pleasure

Sparkling wine once was mostly a special-occasion beverage, reserved for weddings, New Year’s toasts and birthdays.

No more. It’s still the wine of celebration, but more consumers than ever appear to be consuming bubbly as an everyday pleasure. Its growth is being led by the white-hot trend of Prosecco, but other types of sparkling wines are seeing healthy sales, too.

Sparkling wine consumers have “graduated, if you will” to drinking bubbly more regularly, says Marina Velez, manager of information services for the Beverage Information and Insights Group. “Consumers are willing to spend on Champagne or sparkling wine on a daily basis. … We don’t see that changing.”

In its “Wine Handbook 2018,” the group calls Champagne and sparkling wine consumption a “key driver of growth in the overall wine category,” noting that bubbly sales were up 56 percent in 10 years and nearly 6 percent last year.

In addition to the continued popularity of Prosecco and the consumption of bubbly throughout the year, the increases are also being driven by the habits of younger drinkers; the popularity of rosé wines; and the proliferation of convenient, single-serving packages. A few retailers reported devoting more shelf space to sparkling wine, although that’s not always possible. (One retailer likened allocating shelf space to a game of Tetris.)

Sales have been strong for domestic sparkling wine, especially for a few brands. Mumm Napa, for example, was up more than 10 percent, while Scharffenberger increased nearly 9 percent. But imports, as a group, are doing even better. That’s largely because of Prosecco, which now accounts for 17 percent of U.S. sparkling wine sales, but Champagne is also experiencing healthy growth.

To read more of this article, which appears in the November/December 2018 issue of Beverage Dynamics magazine, click here, and flip to page 16.

Check back Friday, when, in preparation for New Year’s Eve, I’ll have some suggestions for traditional-method sparkling wines from places that are less well-known.