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I was recently reading an article that stated Prosecco sales at Tesco are up 50% year-on-year, with the Italian sparkling wine outperforming both Champagne and Cava at the world’s largest wine retailer. Prosecco sales have risen sharply, with global sales growing by double digit sales percentages since 1998, after being introduced to the US market in 2000.

One would wonder why the massive lean towards the Prosecco? Is it the fresh and lively wine with crisp, fruit-driven character, often compared to apples and dessert pears with a clean, refreshing finish? Has the credit crunch taken the fizz out of the UK’s Champagne market?

There are two camps of thought out there. One group would say that Champagne is perceived as the leading sparkling wine with years of marketing and the added advantage of the ‘Champagne’ name. Buyers are inclined to believe it is the best of the best and equates to an opulent lifestyle. Could the reverse be true that we are more exposed to a variety of sparkling wines, and we have a better appreciation for better-value sparkling wines and we may be breaking free from old traditions? Does Champagne taste three times better than a good Prosecco or Cava for that matter, but it usually costs three times more?

The other group is of the opinion that many Champagnes still cost less than some bottles of wine available and even whiskies. The French might say the shift to cheaper sparkling wines is due to the dulled and ignorant palate of most buyers. Never forget the Champagne region is special in terms of soil and climate — you can’t duplicate that anywhere else. Prosecco can be seen as an everyday drinking sparkling wine, as an aperitif or to drink with fish and chips, not for special occasions.

Is Champagne still the ultimate expression of sparkling wine?

Lida Malandra is the Anchor Brand Manager at Oenobrands

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