For over two decades, sparkling wine consumption in the US has been on a steady rise. Data from Statista shows that in 1999 sparkling wine sales in the US represented about 15.6% of wine shipments, and eventually almost doubled to 27.4% in 2018. Simultaneous data from the Wine Institute shows a rise from 105.2 million bottles sold in 1998 to 193.2 million in 2018. Wine consumption in general has been increasing, but it’s sparkling wine sales in particular taking that largest jump—more than 50% between 2008 and 2018. This exponential acceleration in sparkling wine leads to the imminent question: does the favor fall further on the import or domestic side of the category?
Beverage Testing Institute’s extensive catalogue of data creates a unique insight into market data trends seen in proprietary product sampling and professional reviews. Between 1998 and 2018, 6.3% of sparkling wines evaluated by BTI were awarded a score of 93 points or higher. 60% of these sparkling wines were Champagne and 40% were domestic sparklers, and a higher percentage of Champagnes compared to domestic sparklers ranked above 93 points (17% vs. 3%).
Though an initial glance at this data could lead to a conclusion that Champagne is the consumer preference, further exploration reveals otherwise. While BTI’s data set has a larger percentage of high-scoring (93 points and above) Champagnes as opposed to domestic sparkling wines, the average score of the domestic sparklers is significantly higher than that of the Champagne; 93-point-and-higher domestic sparkling wines averaged a score of 96.3 points while Champagnes at the same level averaged 94.3 points.
With uncertain import tariffs looming on the horizon, domestic sparkling wine producers should take note: the data shows that American-made sparkling wines offer consumers a greater value than imported Champagne.