UK Develops Growing Taste For Sparkling Wines
Britain will be the world's biggest importer of champagne and sparkling wine in the next five years as changing drinking habits will see us drink more fizz and less wine.
New market research, conducted by Vinexpo, and commissioned from International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR), estimates the UK will over take Germany to take the top spot.
It has been revealed that British wine drinkers will consume more than 126m bottles of French Champagne, Spanish Cava and Italian Prosecco by 2018.
UK consumers will also double the amount of English sparkling wine they drink to 5.7m bottles.
Global consumption of English sparkling wine is growing, too, and will increase 342% in the 10 years leading up to 2017.
Strawberry Hill Vineyard in Newent, Gloucestershire, produces an award-winning sparkling wine.
The owner, Tim Chance, says he is able to adapt what he produces to meet demand.
"We grow Pinot Noir grapes which have a red skin but produce a clear juice," he said.
"It means we make red wine from it and sparkling white wine, so it's easy to evolve our business as consumers' preferences change."
But he adds that sparkling wine is more expensive to make.
"To make sparkling wine involves a secondary fermentation process, so it takes longer, is more labour intensive and therefore more costly, so we charge more for it," he said.
Experts say the cost of sparkling wines has been coming down, making it more affordable, whilst the quality, particularly of English sparkling wine, has improved exponentially in recent years, adding to its popularity.
Meanwhile, the consumption of red and white wine is in long-term decline. The value of UK wine sales is expected to fall in the next five years, from £8.2bn to £7.9bn.
Nevertheless, the UK is still the world's biggest retail market for imported wine, although China and Russia have the fastest-growing wine import market.