This research investigates wine drinkers' engagement with sparkling wine, including why they drink it, how they evaluate it, and certain country‐based preferences they have for it. It used qualitative processes with both professional and non‐professional informants, and was designed to explore in depth what drinkers feel about the product and their appraisal of its quality. The study confirms some existing assumptions about sparkling wine (for instance, its role as a symbol of celebration and country of origin issues) but also offers new suggestions about its function. Specifically, the study suggests that consumption of sparkling wine has more symbolic than experiential significance — and specifically that the role of memory and recollection may be important for some consumers. It also highlights the problems many drinkers have evaluating sparkling wine due to factors inherent in the style of wine (such as delicacy and mousse), as well as extraneous issues such as a paucity of benchmarks. The findings are useful to the marketer of sparkling wine as they offer insights into the motivation of those who drink it.
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