Sommeliers look away now – because British drinkers spent more on prosecco than champagne in supermarkets for the first time last year, according to figures.
We already quaff more champagne than anywhere outside of France, but it seems more of us are turning our noses up at the luxury bubbles in favour of Italy’s cheaper fizz, which has overtaken champagne as the UK’s most popular sparkling wine.
Experts are at odds to explain our new-found affection for prosecco.
Some suggest the years of austerity have stretched to our drinking preferences, while others say we are more likely to head for a bottle of fizz over a standard red or white wine and would rather sip something with a more modest price tag.
Alfonso Cevola, an author and Italian wine expert, explained: “Prosecco seems easier than champagne. Champagne has built up its reputation as a luxury product, while prosecco is really a wine for all people.
“You don’t have to wear fancy clothing, no hushed lights and no special celebration needed.”
10 best proseccos
10 best proseccos
1/9 Waitrose San Leo
This pale, creamy-textured prosecco has flowery notes and a light peach flavour that makes it ideal for turning into a Bellini by adding peach juice. On its own, it is delicate, yet well-balanced and very easy on the palate, making it a great crowd-pleaser.£6.99, waitrose.com
2/9 Prosecco Asolo Bele Casel
Be sure to have a second bottle cooled and ready as this is so good that one will never seem enough, particularly if you’re drinking it with friends. Dry with clean, fresh fruit flavours including grapefruit and peach, at least you can console yourself, at 11 per cent proof, it’s relatively light in alcohol. £12.95, bbr.com
3/9 Aldi Valdobbiadene
This complex flavoured, stylish bubbly has an undertone of peach and apple, making it a great option as the Autumn sets in. Particularly refreshing and delicate, but also lightly creamy, it comes from North East Italy. £7.49, aldi.co.uk
4/9 M&S Prosecco Zardetto NV
M&S do an impressive range of proseccos, all of them boasting the hallmark lightness and fruity taste, but our vote goes to this particularly vibrant, off-dry and pronounced sparkling wine from the heart of the Congegliano hills, which makes an ideal apéritif or party wine.£11.99, marksandspencer.com
5/9 Prosecco Salatin Extra Dry
Even those who usually stay clear of sparkling wines, for fear of them tasting too acidic, seem to be turned by this stunning, light and delicate prosecco, which is fabulously aromatic and zesty. Enjoy this thirst quencher on its own or with seafood.£12.99, majestic.co.uk
6/9 Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Cartizze
This doesn’t come cheap, but it’s such a delicious sparkler that this faintly off-dry prosecco is well worth the extra money if you can afford it. Beautifully floral, with a slightly creamy nose, it is full on the palate, with a particularly elegant, uplifting finish.£31.99, selfridges.com
7/9 Rude Wines Prosecco Valdobbiadene
This award-winning dry fizz is an excellent value alternative to Champagne. Vibrant straw yellow in colour, it has an elegant floral bouquet and is fabulously fruity, while remaining refreshing on the palate.£12.99, rudewines.co.uk
8/9 Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference
Refreshing but not too dry, this is a perfect drink for warm days or evenings – anytime really. Particularly light and fruity, it is frequently on special offer, although a prosecco of this quality is still a bargain at just a tenner. £10, sainsburys.co.uk
9/9 Tesco Finest Bisol
This award-winning, deliciously soft sparkling wine is a top choice for a budget-friendly wedding drink, thanks to its wonderfully fresh and delicate taste of just-ripe pear flavours, along with its elegant finish and bubbles that aren’t too intense.£8.99, tesco.com
Prosecco is made from the glera grape and is only allowed to be labelled “prosecco” if the grapes are grown in the Veneto or Friuli regions of north-eastern Italy.
But unlike the method used for creating champagne, which is a mix of one or more chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes and ferments in the bottle for at least 18 months, prosecco is fermented in a large chamber instead.
Experts reckon the wine, which is slightly sweeter than champagne, is particularly popular among women, while young people are keen on the price, with an average bottle costing just £6.49, compared with champagne costing £16.23, according to Kantar. The market researchers also revealed that spending on prosecco last year was double that of 2013. In total, £181.8m was spent on prosecco in supermarkets, compared with £141.3m on champagne.
According to research by Laithwaite’s Wine, drinkers in Liverpool are the most fond of prosecco, while the stubbornly traditional tastes of central London mean champagne remains the capital’s favourite.
Mr Cevola added: “Prosecco embraces everyday life and it’s easy, light and affordable. And you can mix it with fruit juices like peach, something one would never dream of doing with champagne.
Sainsbury’s said it too had seen a boost in prosecco sales, which it puts down to more people keen for some fizz.
A spokeswoman said: “Our customers now enjoy a glass of fizz on a much more frequent basis than just saving it for special occasions.
“The sales growth we’ve seen across magnums, half bottles and individual serve bottles are testimony to how much of an integral part of the UK’s social agenda prosecco has become.”Reuse content