Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Has the bubble burst on sparkling wine?

Published:  25 March, 2015

Online sales of sparkling wines have fallen for the first time, prompting concern that the bubble on sparkling wine may be in danger of bursting.

Volume and values fell for two consecutive quarters in 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, according to Tim Wilson, managing director of The Wilson Drinks Report, with volumes of total sparkling wine down 3% in both Q1 and Q2 of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

"It is not often that we report sales of sparkling wine being down year on year," he said. "This happened for the first two quarters of 2014 and we are just compiling the results for the second half of 2014 to see if sales of sparkling wine recovered."

"Christmas sales are obviously key to Q4, and there were a few Champagne brands being discounted heavily online which will have boosted volumes." 

He questioned whether "alarm bells" had started to go off in Q3 and Q4.

Tim Wilison of Wilson Drinks ReportTim Wilson of The Wilson Drinks Report

Champagne is still the biggest region for online sparkling, Wilson pointed out, and sells twice as much by value than Italian sparkling. Online had been a good channel for champagne, especially more premium £25+ champagne, he said, but the fall-off in champagne sales was bringing the entire sparkling category down.

WDR data showed Italian sparkling wine up 50% in the 12 months to 28 June 2014 (volume and value), and there was slight growth from South Africa, albeit off a small base, all other countries for sparkling wine were down. The big losers were Champagne - the biggest seller of fizz online - and Cava.

There was he said, a "significant" mix change between Champagne and Prosecco, which was pushing the average price of total sparkling down from £10.75 in MAT 29 June 2013 to £10.60 in MAT 28 Jun 2014.

"Prosecco is still very strong online, but that is not enough to make up for the others," he said. "Growth is more than 50%, so it is going like the clappers, but it will run out of steam."

"Looking forward, there is a chance that 2015 could see the Prosecco bubble being burst, at least in terms of massive growth," he said.

The figures contrast to off-trade sales where sparkling wine saw growth of around 20%, dominated by Italian sparkling.

The Wilson Drinks Report compiles its online report from data supplied to by 13 online retailers. It includes supermarket by-the- case retailers (Tesco wine by the case, M&S, Waitrose Cellar, and Asda Wine Shop), wine specialists Majestic, Laithwaites, The Wine Society, Berry Bros & Rudd; to wine clubs, The Sunday Times Wine Club, BA Executive Club, Great Western Wine and Telegraphwine.

The report is available to purchase from The Q3 and Q4 data will be available from April.