One of the keys to a successful business is making people feel special – and that’s especially the case in hospitality and catering. And what better way to do that than to hand your customer a flute of sparkling wine or Champagne? It’s a surefire way of making someone smile, and a great boost to your bottom line too. So as we approach a peak time for sales of Champagne, Take Stock shares some hints and tips for sparkling success.
Know your audience
CGA research has shown that 61% of people drinking Champagne in pubs and bars are also drinking Prosecco. The same research also identifies typical fizz drinkers as coming from higher income groups, particularly graduates aged between 25-44 years. It is vital, therefore, to satisfy both the demands of that demographic and extend your offering to reach the broadest possible audience. This is best done by having a range that covers entry level to premium price points, and by making choosing a sparkling wine or Champagne both easy and exciting – something younger drinkers especially demand.
The rise and rise of Prosecco has been well documented. That familiarity makes its presence on your wine list a given. Consider having a draught offering, enabling quick and simple by the glass sales. However, for that special occasion, nothing beats the ceremony of a popping cork. To maximise eye appeal – and profitability – it’s important to have an offering with good presentation and style. Nua from The Society of Vintners is an excellent example. Then look beyond and stock something a little bit different. There are some excellent French, Italian, Spanish and Australian sparkling wines at a variety of price points that not only look good, but are exclusive to the on-trade. And banish any Brexit blues by listing some of the fabulous – and award winning – sparkling wines being produced here in Britain. Look for names like Hambledon, Berry Bros & Rudd and Nyetimber, all of whom are giving French Champagnes a real run for their money. Make sure you include rosé derivatives. Both Mateus and Italian Lambrusco are wines that have changed significantly from their sweeter historical styles, now successfully being offered in drier, brut form.
And finally, Champagne
With a wide range of offerings, ranging from real entry level up to the Grand Marques – it’s important to get this right. Look for a ‘house’ Champagne that has consistent quality. Society of Vintners own brand Jules Feraud NV Brut is a former award winner and is also available in Rosé and Demi-Sec. Even more importantly for the hospitality market, it’s available in half bottles, magnums and jeroboams too! Then add names that your customers recognise – Mumm, Moët, Bollinger, Veuve Cliquot, etc – but get around customers retail market familiarity by opting for ‘specials’ from their respective ranges. So, for instance, the 2008 rosés recently announced by Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot – the latter heralding a return to oak cask ageing for that house.
Presentation is an essential part of the excitement surrounding sparkling wine and Champagne. Whether you use traditional ‘saucer’ glasses or modern flutes, it’s essential your glassware is polished and dry – thereby maximising the bubbles within. And if you’re catering for an event where there will be speeches, invest in Champagne toasting glasses – the prominent rim of which allow for a satisfying clink.
A special drink deserves special treatment. By all means have your sparkling wines and Champagnes in your wine list, but have a dedicated list too – both on and behind the bar and on a prominently sited blackboard. Run a sparkling wine and Champagne offer too. Offer a half bottle within a meal deal. This gives you an opportunity to up sell, and once your customer has started with a sparkler, there’s every probability they’ll want to continue the fun with another. Stock magnums. Offering maximum theatre, these contain sufficient to fill 12 glasses – perfect for larger groups and guaranteed to get people talking and feeling good. And finally, make sure the fizz you sell is properly chilled and bubbly! If you’re left with a part finished bottle, either use a professional stopper, or use the part bottle in any one of the many cocktails that have sparkling wine within. That way, everyone gets their drink in the best possible condition. We’re approaching the season to be jolly. Follow these tips and you might just find that the season to be jolly lasts all year round!
Champagne bottles – A Quick Guide
Name Number of bottles No of glasses
Piccolo 20cl 2
Demi 37.5cl 3
Standard Bottle 75cl/1 bottle 6
Magnum 2 12
Jéroboam 4 24
Réhoboam 6 36
Methuselah 8 48
Balthazar 16 96
Nebuchadnezzar 20 120
Solomon 24 144
Sovereign 35 210
Primat 36 216
Melchizedek 40 240