With New Year’s Eve looming, it’s wise to take a moment to give some thought to Champagne and other sparkling wines. At the 2015 Beverage Executive Symposium, bubbly was broken down by the numbers.
What is sparkling wine? This question probably seems odd but it’s important to know the answer. If you answered, “Wine with bubbles,” you’re essentially correct. Sparkling wine is just wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it. If you answered, “Champagne,” well, you may be missing out on sales. Sparkling wine consumption and interest has been on the rise in America and Champagne is not the only item you should have on your menu.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have Champagne on offer – it does make up 15% of global sparkling wine production. Arguably France’s most popular export, the Champagne region strictly controls harvest dates, ensures that the grapes are handpicked and placed into small baskets, and specifies the type of press that can be used to extract the juice. Additionally, production must be traditional, and producers must adhere to minimum aging guidelines (referred to as The Champagne Difference).
Your staff and guests may also like to know that there are approximately 49 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne, and the speed of a flying cork can reach 40 MPH (so be careful when popping open a bottle).
Champagne, however, isn’t the only player in the game. In fact, they aren’t even the only player in the production method game. There is, of course, the traditional method of sparkling wine production, but there’s also the transfer method, charmat (tank) method, and carbonation (gazefié) method.
Bubbly needs to be on your menu, and not just for New Year’s Eve. Sparkling wine production has increased 40% over the past 10 years. And while Germany and France are the world’s largest sparkling wine consumers, America is the fastest growing market. Clearly, the demand for bubbly is one that cannot be ignored: 6 out of every 100 of bottles of wine produced today is sparkling.
While Champagne is a strong global player (sales make up 15% of the global sparkling market), Italian and Spanish bubbly have proven to be more popular. It’s possible this is due to price but Millennial interest in less mainstream items also plays a part. In fact, Italy's production of Prosecco and Moscato has risen 22% in the last 10 years, and it’s the export leader, accounting for 44% of sparkling wine exportation. Spain comes in at second place with 21 percent.
The end of the year offers an excellent opportunity for sparkling wine sales. But after NYE, consider keeping sparkling on your menu or, if you already offer a few such wines, consider adding some more. Not only is it a no-brainer for those who offer brunch promotions, Champagne and its competitors are finding their way into more and more cocktails. Additionally, the Millennial demographic consumes sparkling wine not just on special events but also “just because.”