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Democratising bubbles: sparkling wines shifting toward day-to-day consumption

The Covid-19 pandemic opened up new opportunities for fizz, with a shift in consumer sentiment making sparkling wine more popular for day-to-day consumption, and increasing curiosity in new styles.

sparkling wine

A category once so strongly associated with celebration is now also finding footing in other, more casual occasions.

Accustomed to spending more time at home and less money in bars, consumers have taken to bringing luxury back indoors with them.

“In some markets, where sparkling wine is primarily for celebratory occasions, Covid hit the category quite hard,” Daniel Mettyear, head of research, EMEA, at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis explains.

But according to Mettyear, the pandemic has accelerated an already growing trend as sparkling wines become more popular for casual day-to-day consumption.

“In other markets, especially those with a strong off-premise culture, we saw sparkling wine volume grow as people have increasingly seen sparkling wines for day-to-day, not only for celebrations,” he says.

The trend towards more casual consumption of sparkling wine is pushing the category into a new phase of growth, as attitudes and consumer habits, spurred by the pandemic shift, pivot back into the home.

“This trend towards democratisation of sparkling wines day-to-day, that’s continuing to be very positive for the category,” Mettyear says.

Lisa Keulder, marketing manager at Graham Beck, agrees that the shift to dining in has had a positive effect.

“Where sparkling was in many instances a drink only destined for a special occasion, more and more consumers are now popping a bottle to celebrate everyday milestones and victories,” she says.

“Graham Beck (and the sparkling category) has seen phenomenal growth as the consumer is now more inclined to celebrate the everyday and pop a bottle of bubbly rather than to keep it for a special occasion or ‘someday’.”

For English Sparkling wine, a style which continues to gain popularity, the shift to at-home drinking was key to stimulating demand.

According to Wine GB, direct to consumer sales now make up half of total sales of English fizz.

Sales of English sparkling in 2020 rose by 30% to reach 7.1 million bottles.

While no figures for 2021 are set to be released until the end of April, WineGB CEO Simon Thorpe predicts that sales of sparkling wines via supermarkets look very positive at circa 50% growth.

Outside of the UK, foreign bubbles are seeing much the same success.

French wine house Château Léoube has seen growing success with its two sparkling wine offerings, with sales growing during the pandemic.

“We have seen our sparkling sales go from strength to strength over the last two years, with an increase in sales outside of the traditional months of celebration – December, Christmas and New Year,” Lauren Holman, the Château’s UK sales manager tells db.

“Our second sparkling wine ‘Sparkling Love by Léoube’ which we launched during the pandemic exceeded our sales expectations and further supported our belief that the sparkling category is more popular than ever and growing as a market.

According to Holman, the brand’s flagship fizz, Sparkling de Léoube, made in the traditional Champagne method, has also continued to grow in popularity as consumers bring bubbles back into their homes.

Romain Ott, Château Léoube’s winemaker, believes the growth is driven by a desire for “an alternative to traditional drinks”, offering a new wine style to more curious consumers.

As Holman explains: “Easy drinking, accessible styles of sparkling are being enjoyed more frequently as day-to-day drinks rather than just for special occasions.

“The pandemic has highlighted to the general public that we should enjoy the moment. With the slower pace of life we noticed consumers taking more interest in the provenance of their produce and becoming interested in different styles of sparkling wine from non-traditional regions.”

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