Sparkling white wine is fast becoming the drink of choice for Kiwis.
Sales of prosecco, a long time favourite with Brits and Europeans alike, have increased by more than 40 per cent in this country over the past year, according to Nielsen.
It is believed New Zealand is still 12 to 24 months away from consumption levels reaching the heights of those in the United Kingdom.
Philip Gregan, chief executive of NZ Winegrowers says, New Zealand was following suit in strong international consumption trends and more local winemakers were looking to develop their own version of prosecco.
The style of wine was attractive to consumers as it was light and fresh, and an alternative to more expensive champagne, Gregan told the Herald.
"Internationally prosecco has taken off very strongly, it's a very big part of the sparkling wine market now in a number of countries, and it's a significant component to the market."
Nielsen figures show sales of sparkling wines have grown more than 10 per cent over the same period last year, and prosecco sales have skyrocketed by more than 40 per cent.
Tim Lightbourne, co-founder and director of Waikato-based Invivo Wines, which produces its own prosecco in collaboration with Irish television personality Graham Norton, said the local awareness and consumption of prosecco had increased significantly in the past year.
Invivo started working on its prosecco with Norton about three years ago and trialled about 10 different styles of sparkling white wine, before settling on a "dry style". The drink first hit local shelves in 2018.
But in the last 12 months, sales of the Invivo Graham Norton's Own Prosecco have increased by more than 200 per cent in New Zealand alone. It is the top-selling prosecco in Ireland and is also sold in the UK, Japan and some parts of Europe.
Overall sales in the last six months since Covid-19 forced much of the world into lockdown have increased by 80 per cent, Lightbourne said.
Its prosecco has just won a gold medal at the New World Wine Awards.
Lightbourne said this style of wine was having a bit of a moment. "In terms of consumption and people's perception of prosecco, there's still a way to go to see what we're seeing in the UK and Ireland, but it's getting there really fast.
"Prosecco as a style is easy to drink, it's affordable quality and the alcohol [quantity] is slightly lower."
He said he would be celebrating the gold medal win with a glass of prosecco - and virtually with Norton.
This is the third time Invivo has won a gold medal at the New World Wine Awards since its inception in 2008. Last year its Invivo x Sarah Jessica Parker sauvignon blanc won gold.
The Graham Norton branded prosecco is the only prosecco Invivo makes, but Lightbourne said it would be looking at the possibility of developing another.
This year is the first year a prosecco has won a Top 50 gold award at the New World Wine Awards, the 18th year the blind-taste test competition has been conducted.
Entries into the sparkling category were up more than 30 per cent to more over 100 wines this year - a good indicator of growing consumer demand, Jim Harré, New World Wine Awards chair of judges, said.
"2020 was a stunning year for overall quality, but the judges were delighted over the range and excellence in the sparkling class in particular," Harré said.
This year's Top 50 includes six sparkling winners, four New Zealand-made wines and two Italian Prosecco: Lindauer Vintage Series Brut Cuvée 2017 (Champion sparkling wine), Lindauer Vintage Series Rosé 2017, Morton Estate Brut, Verde Brut , Cinzano Prosecco D.O.C. and Graham Norton's Own Prosecco.
Harré said the fact that prosecco had made the top 50 list this year signalled that the wine was about to sweep New Zealand.
He puts the shift towards sparkling down to a change in the way consumers choose to pair wines and occasions. "A few decades ago, we may have only had a sparkling wine during a wedding toast, and it would have been from overseas. Today however, it is no longer reserved only for those big events."
Foodstuffs South Island senior category manager Jeni Harper said the sparkling wine category had significantly evolved in New Zealand over the last three to four decades.
"It's really the last decade or so that we've noticed this steady rise in sparkling wine sales, but 2020 is shaping up to be a particularly big year for prosecco," Harper said.
"Through New World stores, sparkling wine sales grew around 6 per cent between 2015 and 2019, and are already up around 10 per cent year-to-date in 2020.
"Already in 2019, New World's prosecco sales had jumped around 35 per cent year-on-year, and year-to-date for 2020, sales are up more than 40 per cent."
More than 275,000 bottles of prosecco were sold at New World stores last year, she said.
"It often takes a bit of time to see beverage trends reach our shores from overseas and be embraced by New Zealand consumers. The trend towards sparkling wines, and prosecco particularly, has been bubbling away in New Zealand for a few summers at least but we're really seeing it take off now."