Got sparkling? Charting the changes in American wine consumption can be a dizzying task, but one sector that continues to emerge offers opportunities to most restaurant operators, and that’s the slow but steady change in consumers’ attitudes about sparkling wines.
It’s taken some time for Americans to become accustomed to casual consumption of sparkling wines instead of thinking of them solely as celebratory drinks. And the world’s winemakers are fully aware of the possibilities inherent in the vast purchasing power of that consumer; just recently, Four of Chile’s most influential producers are set to launch traditional method sparkling wines onto the international market. According to The Drinks Business, Errazuriz, Cono Sur, Concha y Toro and Montes all have traditional method sparklers in production set to fill a price gap between cava and Champagne.
Need more evidence? According to Technomic, Inc. imported sparkling wines continued to gain momentum in 2012 and more growth is expected in 2013, with wines from Italy and Spain leading the charge. With a 6.4 percent volume increase in 2012, imported sparkling wines outpaced domestic sparkler growth (3.7 percent), according to the recently-released 2013 WineTAB report from Technomic. The report, part of Technomic’s Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) series and online DRINK database, goes on to report that Italian wines accounted for 63.7 percent of total imported sparkling wine volume, an increase from 59.8 percent in 2011, with six of the top 10 imported sparkling wine brands coming from Italy and four achieving double-digit volume gains (Mionetto, Bartenura, Raspberry Sparkletini and LaMarca).
Imports of Spanish sparkling wine grew 4.8 percent in 2012 as well. “Italian and Spanish sparklers hit a triple play: they’re accessible in terms of both flavor profile and price and they’re versatile,” says Donna Hood Crecca, senior director at Technomic. “Consumers and bartenders alike are embracing these wines and using them in new and different ways in cocktails and across a range of occasions.”
Interestingly, the report notes that more than a quarter of consumers report ordering sparkling wines in bars and restaurants once a month or more often. “Greater visibility may be contributing to consumer orders,” says Hood Crecca. “The incidence of Prosecco on menus at leading chain restaurants, for example, is growing. Inclusion of the Italian sparklers in specialty cocktails on leading chain restaurant drink menus increased 9.8 percent and their appearance on wine lists grew 12.6 percent in the first six months of 2013 as compared with the same period in 2012, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.”
Spanish cavas’ visibility on leading chain restaurant menus is also growing, with the wines appearing in cocktails and earning space on sparkling wine lists. Overall, the incidence of cavas on leading chain restaurants increased 28.0 percent in the first six months of this year.
As many of these cavas and Proseccos become more widely available off-premise, consumers have been opting for them more and more when confronted with serving large groups when entertaining at home, as the wines are considered great alternatives for sipping throughout parties, meals, picnics, barbecues and general casual dining.
While much of that consuming has been down to warm weather drinking, it’s clear that customers like the opportunity to select from a range of origins and price points. So the better question perhaps isn’t have you got sparkling, but have you got enough.