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New drinkers are bringing growth to sparkling wines says Wine Intelligence

Published:  05 December, 2013

Sparkling wine continues to show strong growth in its major markets, Richard Halstead of Wine Intelligence told the 3rd International Sparkling Wine Symposium, with a new generation of drinkers and distinct changes in drinking habits the key drivers.



Sparkling wine continues to show strong growth in its major markets, Richard Halstead of Wine Intelligence told the 3rd International Sparkling Wine Symposium, with a new generation of drinkers and distinct changes in drinking habits the key drivers.

Citing data from The IWSR, Halstead showed how, while volumes for the top three countries by consumption, Germany, France and Russia, were relatively stable, the US has seen over 5% growth between 2008-12, while the UK has achieved 1.3% "despite the recession".

Sparkling wine is acting as a "recruiting tool" for new consumers, and is proving particularly popular with the so-called millennial generation, defined loosely as those just embarking on their drinking careers through to their early 30s.

"But they are behaving quite differently," Halstead said. Sparkling wine is seen as a more unisex proposition, bridging the gender gap in drink choice - beer and red wine for men, and white wine for women.

In the UK, 5 million more sparkling bottles are being drunk today compared with five years ago, with a quarter of these consumers saying sparkling wine is their "preferred drink". The number of sparkling wine consumers who drink fizz once a month has risen from half in 2011 to two-thirds in 2013. Those who drink sparkling wines at least once a week, account for 60% of the volume sold.

Festive occasions remain the main trigger, but "pre-going out" - having a glass before hitting the town - and sharing a bottle between both sexes when out, whether at the pub or in the restaurant. are both on the rise, as is drinking fizz with food.

Wine Intelligence's Sparkling Wine Reports indicate that, as with Australia and the US, for these younger consumers, sparkling wine is seen as a lifestyle choice. "They may not own a car or their own home, but for them, the lifestyle-related products or experiences are more important," said Halstead.

The younger consumer groups of note in the UK are the Generation Treaters, for whom wine is a lifestyle choice and who enjoy trying new wines, and the Risk-Averse Youngsters, who are more cautious in their selection.

In the UK, Spain and France account for about a third of sparkling sales each, and Italy for nearly a fifth (The IWSR, 2013). France's contribution has declined over the last five years (3%) while Spain and Italy are in growth (11% and 13% respectively).

When questioned about what sort of sparkling wine they drank in restaurants and bars/pubs four out of ten fizz drinkers said they chose Prosecco in restaurants in early 2013, up from three out of ten in late 2011, overtaking Champagne (34%) and New World sparklers (35%) (Vinitrac).

Looking to the future, Halstead said that the growth trend was "likely to accelerate a bit as the economy improves. And Champagne will come back a bit." While this "growth trajectory" suggests that there will be room for "a broader portfolio" of wines, Halstead felt that English wine ticked many of the boxes that today's younger drinkers were interested in. "It's a great cult brand," he said

The 3rd ISWS, organised by Wine Anorak, Litmus Wines and Proven Communication, has been taking place this week at Denbies, Surrey.