How to sell English sparkling wine

Ridgeview’s Tom Surgey’s top tips to make English Sparkling Wine work on your list.

Bubbling away on the market since the early noughties, English sparkling wine has become a hot topic of conversation in the wine trade in recent years. The quality level has never been better and we are bombarded by the message that English sparkling wine is here, it’s THE thing and it’s essential you get involved.

We can talk about the wines themselves another time. Any time you like. What I want to do here is consider how to sell it. What makes it a roaring success on list? Which it can, and deserves to be.

It takes more than just great wine

The sparkling section is a heavily contested area on any list and there already is a well-established player... To operate in the same sphere and win the listing, English Sparkling Wine has had to learn quickly and get professional. The top producers understand that standard of service, price-to-quality ratio and consistency of supply are non-negotiable. Producers increasingly appreciate the requirements of the trade and know that it takes more than just great wine to make a success. Whether that’s in a pub or in a Michelin star restaurant.

Picking the right price point

England’s cool climate necessitates a dedication to quality and hands-on production, which is in itself a good thing, but it does put the final product in the premium category. That said, there are a range of price-points to fit the needs of your customers, whether it’s pouring fizz or an aspirational top-tier bottle. English sparkling wine can be a great house fizz but consider making it a stepping stone between entry-level Prosecco and higher-priced Champagne to give more focus on the sparkling section and invite customers to enjoy a higher quality experience.

Just open a bottle!

Get the bottle open, and serve it by the glass. These are hand-sold wines, bringing an opportunity for a restaurant to express their passion for wine. Pamela McKellar, co-owner of Brighton’s Gingerman Group was an early adopter. “We’ve been serving Ridgeview for twenty years. In the early days we loved it so much we decided to take Champagne off our list as a by-the-glass option and only pour Ridgeview. A few customers weren’t amused, but once they tried their free sample they soon became fans.”

Tom in the vineyard!

Hop on a train and get in the vineyard

Staff confidence is key and the vineyards are local, so get down there! Easy access to the wineries brings a unique opportunity to bring English sparkling wine into your overall wine training. Barworks’ Mike Harrington agrees. “Key to its success across our group has been the engagement of our staff. With the producers being so close to London, we have been able to take staff to the winery, and really raise the confidence and knowledge of our teams.”

What does the future hold?

The future is in increasing the range. Choosing two or three producers to have on list creates a visible, prominent section. The Doyle Collection’s Anne McHale MW is ahead of this curve, “For me, the main positive is that we are debunking the myth that England can't produce world-class wine! I think it's really special to offer guests the chance to realise that for themselves by having such a wide choice of quality examples in the Coral Room. I love the idea that we are encouraging them to explore something new.”

Check out our range of English wines, and read more about our newest English producers doing things differently, here.

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