Fizz on the rocks: Pimping a classic drink

As difficult economic times continue to take their toll on life's little luxuries, champagne houses have discovered the benefits of pimping the classic drink, reports Luke Blackall

Not so long ago, pouring your champagne into a wine glass and then putting a cube of ice into it would be considered, in polite circles, a fizzy faux-pas.

Now some of the most respected champagne houses are not only saying that it's OK, but they marketing it as the dernier cri – or cru – in imbibing.

While many purists will be spluttering into their flutes at the prospect, Moët & Chandon has decided to create a type of fizz with a bigger body and stronger flavour that is specifically designed to be consumed from a larger glass to allow it to "breathe" and be diluted with ice. It has just released Moët Ice Imperial (£75 a bottle from, taking inspiration from the increasing fashion in some bars in and clubs in Paris and the South of France to put an ice cube into their glasses of champagne.

It follows the attempts a few years ago of rival brand Piper-Heidsieck to make the 'Piscine' (drinking champagne over a stack of ice, preferably made from the same champers, frozen, but with ice if budgets didn't quite stretch) the must-have beverage among the beautiful people.

Ice aside, it seems like our thirst for bubbly is unquenchable. In 2010, UK sales were up, as part of a global trend which saw a 9 per cent sales rise. Earlier this year, supermarkets were also reporting rises, with royal wedding celebrations helping Marks and Spencer achieve its best sales of the drink since 2008.

Part of this is, of course, that champagne will always be a symbol of, and a route to, both happiness and hedonism either when the financial aspect is good or when it's gloomy. As Winston Churchill, a big bubbly fan, once said: "In victory, we deserve it. In defeat, we need it." But it is also down to the fact that manufacturers are having to work harder to market their products to consumers. While other luxury products have started to gain solid ground on the BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China), champagne doesn't have the same foothold in these places as other high-end goods.

Spiros Malandrakis, alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International, argues that it's the sort of adaptation traditional houses are having to make in tough times. "The recent launch of Ice Impérial retains the focus on luxury but provides a twist on the stale traditionality that historically plagues champagne," he says.

"Inspired by the massive success of rosé wines that capitalised on their ideal character for the summer season, as well as the over-ice trend that revolutionised how people drank cider back in 2005, champagne over ice provides a much-needed innovation for the still-precarious times ahead."

But it's not a trend which satisfies everyone's palette. Alun Griffiths, buying director at wine suppliers Berry Brothers and Rudd, believes it is simply a copycat piece of marketing, which attempts to tap into the same consumer mindset. "It's a bit of a gimmick, for people in bars and in clubs. It's the same as cider over ice, it looks good, like a long drink over ice," he says. "As a purist it takes a huge amount of care and effort to make a great champagne, so if you're making it more condensed then you're interfering with the process."

The introduction of ice cubes and bigger glasses is not the only emerging trend, though. Galoupet restaurant, which opened last week in London, is home to what it claims is the capital's first 'enomatic' champagne machine, which gives customers the chance to try some vintage, normally only available by the (very expensive) bottle, by the glass. But with a glass of Krug Grand Cuvée Brut costing £35 and Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1996 costing £50 a glass, it remains a luxury.

Pol Roger has found success with the introduction of PURE (from around £36 per bottle), which is a low calorie champagne with no added sugar. Similarly, Laurent-Perrier has just launched its Ultra Brut (from around £45.99 per bottle), a super-dry champagne with no added sugar.

Meanwhile, Searcy's new Champagne Bar in One New Change near St Paul's, has introduced another trend that's popular on the continent - champagne decanting. Used mainly for older, bigger bodied vintages, it is designed to open up the drink's flavours. But being in a decanter also adds both a ritual and theatrical element to the drink. Important, as a number of those having their champagne decanted are business customers trying to impress clients.

If these innovations fail to impress the fizz fans among you, fear not. With the economic outlook as yet still a far from certain, it looks likely that producers will continue to pull out all the stops – as well as the corks – in a bid to try to get us to open our wallets, as well as our mouths.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...