Italian and Spanish sparkling wines are enjoying rising sales in America, thanks to the increasing popularity of moscato, prosecco and cava.
According to the recently released 2013 WineTAB report from research analysts Technomic, imported wines outperformed domestic sparklers in 2012. Sales of imported wines rose by 6.4 percent against 3.7 percent for locally produced fizz.
Champagne lost ground to Italian and Spanish sparkling wines, falling from more than 18 percent of total imports in 2011 to 16 percent in 2012.
The report notes that much of the "excitement and momentum" in the market is around Italian wines, which accounted for 63.7 percent of sparkling imports – up from 59.8 percent in 2011.
Six of the top 10 imported sparkling wine brands hailed from Italy, and four achieved double-digit volume gains. They were prosecco producers Mionetto and LaMarca, plus Bartenura and Raspberry Sparkletini Spumante.
Imports of Spanish sparkling wine also grew, increasing by 4.8 percent in 2012. Several brands of cava and sparkling moscato achieved volume gains, including Segura Viudas and Opera Prima from La Mancha.
"Italian and Spanish sparklers hit a triple play: they're accessible in terms of both flavor profile and price, and they're versatile," said Donna Hood Crecca, senior director at Technomic.
"Consumers and bartenders alike are embracing these wines and using them in new and different ways in cocktails and across a range of occasions," she added.
More than a quarter of consumers said they had ordered sparkling wines in bars and restaurants at least once a month. Technomic suggests that "greater visibility" may be contributing to the rise.
The incidence of prosecco on menus at leading chain restaurants, for example, is growing. Inclusion of the Italian sparklers in specialty cocktail menus increased by 9.8 percent, according to Technomic's MenuMonitor. Their appearance on wine lists also grew by 12.6 percent in the first six months of 2013 as compared with the same period in 2012.
Spanish cavas also have greater visibility, with the wines appearing in cocktails ranging from Bellinis to Mojitos and earning space on sparkling wine lists. Overall, the inclusion of cava on the menus of leading chain restaurants increased by 28.0 percent in the first six months of this year.
"Our WineTAB report shows that advertising support for sparkling wine overall increased in 2012, and our tracking indicates the trend is continuing in 2013. This category is setting a course for continued expansion," said Technomic.