English fizz ‘best value’ option in London restaurants

According to specially-commissioned research by db, English fizz has emerged as the best-value wine option in London restaurants – and we consider why.

Such a result follows a study commissioned by db into the leading wine areas for value in London restaurants, which saw Sussex and England come out on top.

Using data compiled by wine list app, Wine Picker, the concept of ‘value’ was calculated by looking at the prices charged for English sparkling wines on wine lists, and comparing these to their scores from both consumer ratings sites (such as Snooth) and professional wine writers.

Having analysed data from over 500 wine lists in London, representing over 41,000 wines, West Sussex came out as the best-value wine region according to consumer ratings, and the second best (after Galicia) according to professionals (using scores from a range of leading commentators and websites/titles such as Jancis Robinson, Neil Martin, Decanter, Vinous, Wine Advocate and others).

Speaking about the result, Josselin Guibert, co-founder of Wine Picker, told db that he believed English sparkling benefitted from a quality focus, and keen pricing in restaurants.

“My opinion is that we are looking at a product which is made in small quantities, and high quality,” he said, explaining the high scores for the brands represented in London restaurants.

Continuing, he commented, “And I think it’s possible, that because the restaurants are in the UK, they are putting a lower margin on English sparkling,” suggesting that there is a greater urge to promote the product due to national pride.

As a result, one can find English sparkling wine on London restaurant lists at a lower price than Champagne, even when the former has higher ratings, and hence its value positioning.

When asked about English sparkling at Wiltons, a traditional upmarket English restaurant in St James’s, sommelier Harry Ballmann confirmed that he does deliberately price the fizz below Champagne.

“We have just revamped our wine list and we’ve done a big push on English sparkling, and gone from two wines to 15,” he began, before commenting, “Wiltons is an English institution, so we are playing on that by showing the best England has to offer.”

Continuing, he said that Wiltons “do bring down the GP (gross profit margin) on English sparkling, so a bottle would cost between £80-£120, but over £120, and our sparkling wine offer is grande marque Champagne.”

As for who is buying English fizz in a restaurant like Wiltons, Ballmann said that his longstanding customers tend to stick to Champagne, but tourists, particularly from the US, like to try English sparkling wine – if it’s suggested – and “love it”.

For Ballmann however, Champagne still offers better value in general terms. “The quality you get in Champagne is more consistent, and while there are pockets in English sparkling that are fantastic, you have to find them.”

London’s best-value wines by region (£15-500) according to consumers are:

1 West Sussex (UK) with an average rating of 92.3 and average price of £84.1

2 Navarra (Spain) with an average rating of 87.4 and average price of £34.8

3 Murica (Spain) with an average rating of 86.8 and average price of £28.9

4 Limarí (Chile) with an average rating of 87.2 and average price of £34.1

5 Patagonia (Argentina) with an average rating of 88.1 and average price of £45.3

London’s best-value wines by region (£15-500) according to professionals are:

1 Galicia (Spain) with an average rating of 89.4 and average price of £39.8

2 West Sussex (UK) with an average rating of 92.4 and average price of £78.7

3 Marlborough (New Zealand) with an average rating of 89.8 and average price of £46.8

4 England (UK) with an average rating of 90.4 and average price of £54.6

5 Victoria (Australia) with an average rating of 90.9 and average price of £63.4

Restaurant Analytics 

Wine Picker and the drinks business have partnered to form a new service for wine producers, brand owners and distributors, called Restaurant Analytics.

The new business is a London-based research company providing a bespoke overview for any wine or region’s on-trade UK market position.

Restaurant Analytics leverages 20 years of publishing expertise in the wine trade using the latest big-data solutions to quickly find the information that matters to your brand.

Whether it’s overall market performance and trends, deep dives into specific segments, such as US Chardonnay or English Sparkling, or actionable market insight, Restaurant Analytics’ research provides tailored market reports based on your requirements, such as:

  • Market statistics, market share and generic market data.
  • Lists of restaurants selling the wines, along with pricing.
  • Detailed market share of competitors.
  • Lists of restaurants where your wines should be listed.

To ensure better visibility in the UK on-trade, Restaurant Analytics can provide you with all the information you need to become an authority.

For more information contact Bert Grant on bert.grant@unionpress.co.uk or  +44 (0) 20 7803 2420

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