Tag Archives: Champagne

So long, Champagne, it’s been good to know you

The wine business continues to do things no one expects, and the latest Champagne sales numbers are a striking indication of what’s going’s on.

This French wine service story is stunning in its conclusions: “Champagne was dominant 10 to 15 years ago, but the world has changed.”

The story, though written for the European market, is well worth reading because it documents the trend we’re been talking about here for several years (and not just because I’m trying to put together The Cheap Wine Book). Today, when consumers have a choice between two quality products, they’re more likely than ever to buy on price. Champagne exports declined 2.8 percent last year, while non-Champagne sparkling wine accounts for 70 percent of the European market.

In other words, we’re buying more cava and prosecco and so are the Europeans — and that it’s not Champagne doesn’t seem to bother us.This is shocking news, and especially for the Europeans. Their market never, ever worked that way.

This also demonstrates the continuing evolution of the wine market into two tiers – everyday wine drinkers, who are mostly ignored by the Winestream Media, and a much smaller, score-driven minority that still buys wine the old-fashioned way and is doted on by most of the wine world.

And how cheap are these wines? Cava costs €8 (US$11) or less in most European retailers, while prosecco ranges from €5 to €15 (about US$7-$20). Those of you who buy either in the States will note that’s pretty much what we pay for it. Call it the pricing power of the biggest multi-national wine companies (cava giant Freixenet’s annual production is about two-thirds of the entire Champagne region), and they’re more than willing to trade margin for market share – another theme we’ve discussed in detail here.

Winebits 262: New Year’s Eve bubbly

Recommendations from around the Internet for sparkling wine for tonight. My suggestions are here.

Same old wines: The AskMen.com website has a thorough look at Champagne history, the differences between the various kinds of bubblies, and even serving suggestions. What it doesn’t have? Many interesting wines. It recommends Veuve Clicquot and Perrier-Jouet, which are usually two of the top five brands in the U.S. You don’t need to know much about Champagne to pick those.

If you don’t want Champagne: NorthJersey.com does an excellent job with cava, cremant and the like, including a New York state bubbly, Brotherhood Winery Blanc de Blancs Brut for $10. These are all (save the Brotherhood) widely available.

And if you don’t like bubbly? Which the Wine Curmudgeon can’t imagine, given how much sparkling wine I drink even when it isn’t New Year’s. But the Today.com website has more beer suggestions than I would have thought possible, complete with beer-speak (“[I]t packs a hearty 10 percent ABV that’s very well hidden within an ambrosia of earthy fruits and dark caramel flavor notes.”) I’m sure they’re all fine beers; I just wish the author hadn’t intimated those of us who like sparkling are less than manly. Should I challenge him to a spitting contest?

New Year’s sparkling wine 2012

New Year's sparkling wine 2012Which means sparkling wine, plus a couple of other ideas — whether for dinner on Dec. 31 or brunch on Jan. 1.

Our Champagne and sparkling wine glossary is here. This is also the place for my annual plea to drink more sparkling wine during the year. Bubbly deserves deserves more than just one post in the Wine Curmudgeon top 100 (90th place in 2012).

More, after the jump:

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