I have been thinking about something Jamie Goode tweeted a couple of days ago while he was at the International Sparkling Wine Symposium. He questioned whether Sparkling Wine was actually not competing in the rather narrow (as he described it) wine category but was up against Beer & Spirits.
He got a very quick reply from Dan Jago, the Head of the BWS category for Tesco UK, saying simply "No it isn't". Which I thought was quite funny and succinct. But is he right?
Well he's certainly the best person to comment on it from the off-trade perspective given that Tesco shifts more alcohol than any other retailer. But I think in the on-trade there's more truth in Jamie's point of view.
I've always thought that guys are so lucky when they go to the pub, they just order a beer and are done with it. Lager or Ale, really that's all they have to decide and usually they have a preference one way or another and stick to it. If they do experiment it's not generally going to be a disaster.
I, on the other hand, love going to pubs but stand with a sinking feeling in front of the bar wondering what I'm going to drink. Wine is often very ordinary and not in the least bit refreshing - not even the invariable Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc enthusiastically described as such on the list, but sickly after more than 1 glass - and cocktails are a bit much for an ordinary mid-week evening drink.
I end up, more often than not, with a gin & tonic or campari & soda. Not very adventurous but safe, but also much more alcoholic than I really want.
Sparkling wine is exactly right for the mood I'm talking about. And it's not just Prosecco or Cava anymore - the wealth of English Fizz, Cremants, Franciacortas etc etc give us so many stylish options.
It's refreshing, fizzy, cold, affordable and looks good. That ticks all the marketing boxes.
And the beauty of it is, if the sparkling wine turns out to be a bit rough (which sometimes, let's face it, can be the case) it just takes a tiny drop of fruit sirop to transform it.
For me, at least, Sparkling wine in the on-trade is definitely a completely different category to wine and my perfect alternative to beer or spirits.
Good call Jamie.