Can the World’s Love of Champagne now be Challenged?

22nd August 2016

Can the World's Love of Champagne now be Challenged?

I would say that it is fair to state that almost all things in life can be challenged, let’s face it that at every new Olympics world records are broken,  each year large internationally recognised businesses collapse and new start ups excel and each week many eagerly await to see who will be replaced as the number one song in the charts. There are though those things in life which have stood the test of time and have had enough resolve to remain firmly at number one despite new challengers, changes in our living styles and progress of technology and this includes Champagne!

Now, many of us see certain brands / names as a way of life, Apple’s presence in tech and gadgets, Wimbledon when it comes to Tennis, Rolls Royce when it comes to luxury cars and many more are all household names and their mention instantly conjures up thoughts in our minds. This is exactly what Champagne has been riding on for many years, throughout it’s history, from the early days of widow Clicquot to the likes of Jay Z purchasing Armand de Brignac, limelight presence has followed this rich in history sparkling wine.

Though, can it’s title of the king of wines, the ultimate bubbly, the celebratory drink now be challenged? I can see things being shaken up for sure as I see certain slight changes which over a period of time, if maintained, can lead to the number one spot being challenged.

  • Price of Champagne. This is something which has drawn a fair amount of discussion within the industry and most of which is not complimentary. Champagne is to many an aspirational product, something you have on those special occasions or that it’s part of the jet set lifestyle. Recent times have seen Champagne being sold in supermarkets at under £10 a bottle, sitting shoulder to shoulder alongside some Prosecco prices, this, long term, sets in the minds of consumers that Champagne is no longer this mysterious luxury purchase and instead it’s part of your weekly shop now for many average income households. Champagne has ridden many waves on being the luxury wine, now we see it as a cheap wine alternative. Yes, many Champagnes are not at £10 a bottle, many are £100’s if not £1,000’s per bottle, but supermarkets deal with the broad mass of the population and it’s within this sector that national mind sets can be change over a period of time and new generations can easily be persuaded to join new trends.
  • Chandon at Formula One. OK, so many of you will not be fans of the F1, many may not have watched it for years since the days of Senna and Prost, but I am sure many will know the iconic celebratory Champagne spraying that goes on whilst the winning drivers are on the balcony? Now, I also know that many readers will not know that Champagne is no longer the fizz that is sprayed and that Chandon sparkling wine have now taken over from Mumm Champagne. My recent article I wrote about people still assuming any bubbly is Champagne runs to F1 and even commentators and reporters this year still stating that the drivers are spraying Champagne. What was once a sport associated with Champagne, a major sport internationally, is now a sparkling wine and if this continues in F1 and stretches in to other major sports then once again, people’s mind will associate success and celebrations with sparkling wines not just Champagne.
  • Progress of other sparkling wines. An important factor indeed and most certainly worth a mention. Let us remember that the way in which Champagne is made is not unique, Franciacorta and English Sparkling Wine among others are made in the same way and many of these sparkling wines are winning awards above Champagne. Not only are sales increasing of other sparkling wines, but also the makers of those wines are also changing teams as such, we see what were great Champagne makers now exploring sparkling wines elsewhere with their wine making talents. We have all heard about Champagne labels buying in to land / wineries in the UK… This to me not only shows good business sense, but also forward thinking that if Champagne will be challenged in years to come then it makes perfect business expertise that they own part of that competition.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.