[Exclusive interview]: Andrew Gray, wine story-teller opens world’s first global fizz bar

In London, adventurous Andrew Gray is poised to capture the zeitgeist with the opening of the world’s first sparkling wine bar. Vinexpo data forecasts that global consumption of sparkling wine will reach more than 280 million 9-litre cases by 2021*. Leading the charge are Europe (a 65% share of the category) and the USA.

* VINEXPO/IWSR Report


 Q: Why is the timing right for a global fizz bar? 

A:  The dramatic rise of Prosecco has made casual drinking of sparkling wine at everyday prices a possibility: and the Prosecco boom has opened the doors for the lesser-        known sparkling wines of the world, making them more  accessible. As the wines of Italy enter the zeitgeist, a global fizz bar offers a hub for customers to taste countless different wines in a single visit and learn the difference between them as well as finding new favourites.

Q: Why London. What other capitals would be appropriate?

A: It’sbecause we’re based in London that we’re opening here. The category allows for complex, premium wines at accessible prices so other capitals where people have an open mind to new styles of wine would be appropriate – which could be anywhere in the world really!.

Q: Does the ‘global fizz’ bar concept permit none sparkling wine?

A: It does, we’ll have a small list of crowd-pleasing, experimental and traditional still wines and cocktails for those looking for something a little different, but trust us to choose a wine.

Q: Is there enough ‘heft’ in demand to grow the concept for many years?

A: There are enough sparkling wines available around the world to rotate for years. Demand will be down to the customer’s choice and our ability to explain what makes the wines special and so entice customers.

Q: What is the customer profile?

A: Our current customer is 25-55 years old, open to experimentation, new tastes and trends in the food world

Q: How many wines from how many countries are on sale?

A: We are starting with 65 sparkling wines from 15 countries, covering white, rose and red.

Q: What are the top five fizzes you expect to sell?

A: In terms of styles and regions, Prosecco for its popularity, Franciacorta and South African wines for their Champagne-like styles, Tasmanian wines for their technicality and Pet Nat (see below) for a taste of the future. We see Cava having a comeback too.

Q: What feedback can wine-makers expect from consumers

A: Our winemakers are happy to be represented in such a vital market with their messages clearly shown. They work hard to make their wines accessible and so will appreciate feedback on how customers approach their wines and what motivates them customer choice.

Q: How important is education in the retail mix?

A: Education is the key element alongside atmosphere. We are the connective tissue between the winemaker and the customer, and it is vital to communicate the story of each                  wine to elevate it beyond an anonymous bottle to something    the customer can identify with

Q: How are consumers preferences for fizz changing?

A: Consumers are becoming far more adventurous with a willingness to explore styles that are less classic while certain demographics/ age groups have strong preferences for different styles i.e. Prosecco, Pet Nat, Franciacorta. Until now there hasn’t been a venue for the consumer to explore a lot of very different styles beside each other so it will be interesting to see how that changes perception and demand – we know there will be a lot more interest. Our aim is to give our customers what we know they want.

*  Pet Nat: Pétillant Naturel – covering sparkling wines bottled before primary fermentation is finished and without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars

 * Set up in 2011, Grays and Feather started life running street market stalls and pop-up bars in Central London. Now the company is poised to open its first wine bar and restaurant and describes itself as story-tellers about wine regions, cultures and climates as much as wine merchants.