While there is plenty of research about still wines, sparkling wine remains something of an unknown area. Little data exists, particularly on questions like when and where sparkling wine is consumed, or about which brands play an important role in the German market.
In October 2022, Geisenheim University decided to help bridge the gap and conducted a study of 800 people.
The German market for sparkling wines
The market segment is not insignificant, as it is estimated at about 3m hl per year—this accounts for about 15% of the total German wine market. Globally, Germany has the highest per capita consumption.
When are sparkling wines consumed in Germany?
Special occasions are much more important for sparkling wine than for still wine. This means the segment also tends to be dominated by occasional drinkers:
- 40% of respondents who do not drink still wine will consume sparkling wine, but two thirds of these consumers drink sparkling wine less frequently than once a month.
- When consumption of still wine increases, so does the consumption of sparkling wine, in approximately the same proportion.
The primary motivation for buying is, not surprisingly, the flavour. This is followed by the brand/winery and the price. Which brand and therefore which type of sparkling wine is chosen depends on the occasion, and can vary considerably.
The most important styles are dry and semi-dry. Men and ‘frequent’ drinkers tender to prefer lower residual sugar levels, while women, older consumers and ‘infrequent drinkers’ tend to prefer a higher sugar content.
As to where they’re buying, German consumers typically buy it in food retail and discounters—this accounts for more than 80%.
Commercially available sparkling wine is the most popular choice for almost all occasions. Champagne is more popular on special occasions and is often chosen by men. Young consumers and frequent drinkers tailor their sparkling wine choice more specifically for the occasion.
Warning signs ahead
Almost 20% of the respondents want to drink less in the future. Perhaps alcohol-free sparkling wine can help here. After all, 44% of the respondents have already tried it.
Conclusions about sparkling wine consumption in Germany
Although sparkling wine and still wine belong to the same category of alcoholic beverages, a very heterogeneous picture emerges in the areas of consumption, occasion, preference, trend and purchase decision. Sparkling wine and other sparkling wines enjoy a special status and are more often associated with a special occasion.