Consumer taste for sparkling wine swells size of market by 9% in a year

Publications that covered this story include the Daily Telegraph, The i, Metro, City AM, Daily Express, Mail Online, Huffington Post and the Morning Advertiser on 9 October, and Decanter on 10 October.
  • Amount of sparkling wine on sale up by 76% in five years
  • Boon for English vineyards as well as Prosecco producers

UK consumers’ demand for sparkling wine is continuing to grow rapidly, with the amount on sale up by 9% last year, providing a boon for English vineyards as well as foreign producers.

Figures show that there were 34.4 million gallons of sparkling wine on sale in the UK in 2016/17, compared to 31.6 million in 2015/16*.

This represents a 76% increase on five years ago in 2012/13, when there were just 19.5 million gallons on sale.

Sparkling wines such as Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava have become increasingly popular as a more upmarket alternative to still wine, and as a cheaper substitute for Champagne. So too have English sparkling wines, which are also now widely recognised as a high quality option, with several brands gaining international acclaim.

Some bars and pubs now have Prosecco on tap like lager, and heavily-marketed Aperol Spritz, the traditional Italian Prosecco-based cocktail, is now ubiquitous on drinks menus.

James Simmonds, Head of our Drinks sector group and partner in our Nottingham office, says; “Sparkling wine has become increasingly democratised – and sales are soaring as a result.”

“Some of the best premium products can hold their own against Champagne in the tasting stakes, and there is a huge variety of great sparkling wines available at price points which are roughly similar to still wines, so there’s real strength in the market.”

“English vineyards have established an impressive reputation at home and abroad for their fine sparkling wines, so this is a boon for the UK’s home-grown industry.”

Frazer Thompson, CEO of leading English sparkling wine producer Chapel Down says, “English wines are no longer the poor relation. Significant amounts of investment, dedication and expertise are helping to create the kind of quality that can rival products from France, Italy, Spain or the New World.”

“English brands, like Chapel Down, are disrupting the market and stealing market share from renowned champagne houses. However, these disruptors are no mere “flash in the pan”.”

“At Chapel Down for instance, we have been building our businesses up over many years to the point where we have seen seven years of 25% compound annual growth and are winning international awards for our wines.  We are starting to export our products, and we are of a scale to be publicly listed.  We planted 95 acres of vineyards last year and plan to plant a further 129 acres in the next 12 months.”

English sparkling wines are now stocked in many supermarkets including Waitrose, M&S, Sainsburys and Tesco as well as frequently featuring on the wine lists of top restaurants.

For example, Chapel Down is sold in most major supermarkets, and regularly features on the wine-lists at Jamie Oliver’s and Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurants. Their wine was also served at the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

James Simmonds says, “Major supermarkets as well as top bars and restaurants are keen to sell English sparkling wines because they can compete with the best from around the world, not just because they are English.”

“With the weak pound putting upward pressure on the price of imported Prosecco, Champagne and Cava thanks to Brexit, English sparkling wine is likely to become even more appetising to consumers.”

Frazer Thompson adds, “The power of the brand is a key strength for English wines. We are seeing the emergence of some serious English sparkling wine brands becoming well-known, well-regarded names as they compete against Champagne. By contrast, recognizable Prosecco brands are few and far between.”

As demand escalates, the English wine industry is growing – recent figures** show that a record 64 new wine producers and vineyards launched in 2016 – a 73% increase on the previous year when 37 opened.

34.4 million gallons of sparkling wine on sale in UK last year as demand soars

*Financial year. Source: HMRC

** Source: HMRC