Italian Sparkling Wine Sales Surge

By Carl Camasta

The United States has never been a significant consumer of sparkling wines. That’s not to say that we don’t think highly of them.  Our perception of sparkling wine is that it is a luxury item with a luxury price.  In fact, even our government taxes sparkling wine at a rate that is more than triple that of still wine because it considers it a luxury item.  Consequently we tend to reserve sparklers for New Year’s Eve and special occasions like weddings and anniversaries.  But those ideas are beginning to change.

Impact Databank, which is a trade organization that tracks the sales of wines and spirits, has released the latest sales statistics and sparkling wine has shown an overall growth of 5.5%.  That may not seem like a lot but it represents a 350,000 case increase over the previous year, even though Spanish Cava and French Champagne have shown net losses.

So where is the growth coming from? It is coming from Italian Sparkling wine. Every brand of Prosecco has garnered double digit growth. That’s a remarkable statistic for a product that was virtually impossible to find in an American wine shop twenty years ago. But given the affordability and marketing efforts by the region of Veneto and the Prosecco consortium it is not surprising.

Most brands of Prosecco are available in the $15 to $20 range.  The leading brands are Mionetto, La Marca, and Zonnin. But there are many other brands available and the quality is rather consistent across most. Some additional brands that are worth looking for include Tiziano, Carpene Malvolti and De Bertiol. Like Champagne, they carry designations on the label that indicate the level of dryness – Brut is the driest followed by Extra Dry and Dry.

Prosecco is a great every day wine for the summer. It pairs well with salads, raw and grilled seafood and poultry dishes. It is also great mixed with peach nectar to make a Bellini, the drink made famous by Harry’s Bar in Venice. Don’t hesitate to mix it with other fruit juices or to just drink it by itself and to toast Italy for bringing us affordable luxury.

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