Champagne loses fizz as Britons splash out more on prosecco

Experts reckon the wine, which is slightly sweeter than champagne, is particularly popular among women, while young people are keen on the price

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Indy Lifestyle Online

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.”

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.”