Toast To Champagne By Marinel Fitzsimons

A glass of champagne brings sparkle to any event, but what is it about these lovely bubbles that makes it such an emblem of festivities?

A toast to Champagne

This question was addressed in depth at the first ever Champagne Assembly run by Pernod Ricard’s top champagne brands, Perrier Jouët and Mumm.

The head of marketing for Pernod Ricard, Jo Spencer, hoped that the gathering would help ‘‘demystify the brands, bringing together experts in the field of luxury.’’ So what is the current status of our favourite luxury tipple?

It would seem that the new luxury consumer is less ostentatious, favouring the well-established, guaranteed quality brands, rather than the fast fashion labels. The primary focus is on both quality and value for money. This translates into more spending on ‘‘everyday luxuries,’’ such as expensive chocolates, champagne and the best make-up – a phenomenon called ‘‘the lipstick effect.’’

That said, champagne is a problematic addition to this trend. Although an undeniable luxury item, it does not conform to the conventional rules of a luxury product. Fflur Roberts, head of Global Luxury Goods at Euromonitor International, explained that the simplest way of categorising luxury items is by their price relative to the market in which they are on sale. For a product like champagne, this makes things tricky. Firstly, export costs from France and taxes on alcohol (that vary enormously from one country to another) cause complications. Moreover, champagne covers a wide range of price points, from their entry-level non-vintage (NV) brut variants, costing around £25, right up to the bespoke, personal blend option offered by Perrier Jouët, which costs thousands.

Champagne’s extremely short ‘‘party’’ life span stands in contradiction to the traditional luxury consumer motivations – and the demand for timeless, investment worthy goods. The mass availability of champagne in every supermarket, including the less upmarket stores, jars with the idea of an exclusive and selective distribution – elements that are so vital in the luxury market.

However, for many, a party is not a soiree without a bubble or two of the loveliest champagne. Swallowed, gulped or sipped – we drink champagne to show our standards, to spoil our guests and to celebrate. It is a lifestyle luxury product that rises beyond the ‘‘lipstick effect’’ – bringing pleasure and effect. Just remember to re-apply your expensive lippy when the second bottle of champagne is popped!