Don't know about you, but we're feeling a serious case of fizz fatigue....
In probably the least surprising news of the year so far, sales of Prosecco are currently at an all-time high, with Brits responsible for buying one in every five bottles of Prosecco produced. Supermarket sales of the fizzy stuff are up by 34 per cent to £356 million and it by far outsells its luxe (and pricier) rival Champagne. But could the bubble be about to burst on everyone’s go-to tipple?
A 100% unofficial straw poll of the Marie Claire office might go some way towards suggesting it’s time to switch to another drink du jour. Comments ranged from; ‘I’ve had too many Prosecco-induced headaches that I’ve kind of lost the taste for it, y’know?’ To the more discerning ‘You used to get a really good bottle for about £7. Now I find the quality not so palatable. There are too many cheap and nasty brands out there that taste like fizzy vinegar.’
And according to Ruth Spivey, founder of Wine Car Boot*, we may have a point. ‘For years now, Prosecco has been ubiquitous, and whilst its non-offensive taste and affordable price tag still hold appeal – it has perhaps become a victim of it’s own successful branding,’ Spivey tells Marie Claire. ‘I have recently seen more interest in alternatives. The current interest in artisan produce, provenance and authenticity doesn’t help – generic Prosecco doesn’t really tick these boxes. People just buy it because it’s affordable and reliable – not bad quality per se, but it’s not seen as interesting, different or genuine. There are some very good, “proper” Proseccos on the market that are well worth seeking out – go to Passione Vino in Shoreditch for some great ones – but the bog standard £8 bottles from the supermarkets are simply a product, manufactured in an often highly industrial manner. I think people look for a little bit more these days.’
Indeed, drinks industry experts believe the excessive demand for Prosecco will inevitably lead to a drop in quality. As the Telegraph’s wine writer Victoria Moore has stated: ‘It’s extraordinary rise has seen such a squeeze on prices that quality has fallen and many of the cheap supermarket Proseccos that used to be so refreshing just don’t taste as good as they used to. Over the last three or four years there’s been a big push to find alternatives and buyers have done a fantastic job, filling the shelves with cava, pignoletto and fizzy wine from the Loire and elsewhere, much of which is delicious. The quality of Prosecco has sunk so much that Cava by comparison often tastes much better.’
With the news that the Brexit vote has sparked genuine Prosecco panic in Italy – the UK is the leading export market – and one dentist claiming our our fizz habit could be damaging our dental health after coining the term ‘Prosecco teeth’, perhaps we all now have our eye on the next big thing. Question is, what will we be serving up instead?
‘There are plenty of other options on the market these days – often at a competitive price point too – without having to go for Champagne, which can still be seen as ’special occasion’ wine,’ explains Spivey. ‘Whether it’s a Cremant de Loire or Bourgogne, artisan Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, sparkling Rieslings from Austria and Germany, Pétillant-naturels (or Pét-nat, as the trendies say…) and of course, our home grown English fizz, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to bubbles. It’s never been easier to pop a cork of something a little more interesting than Prosecco.’
*Wine Car Boot runs pop up events where London’s best independent wine shops provide samples and sell their favourite wines in a car park near you. For details of their next event, visit www.winecarboot.com