The “Skinny” sparkling wines from Thomson & Scott have taken the alcohol industry by storm. Amanda Thomson – Founder and CEO – believes in transparency, healthy living, and thoroughly fabulous champagne
Words Patrick Hamilton Courtney
I love Thomson & Scott’s Skinny Fizz. I’ve tried both the Champagne and Prosecco. Several times. And can fully attest to the claim that in taste they rival premium competitors. Hard graft has resulted in the brand going viral on Facebook, endless press coverage, and being stocked in some of the country’s finest outlets. It’s on the shelves at Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, and available for sipping in restaurants and hotels all over the country.
Skinny Champagne’s concept is simple. Nearly all sparkling wines are produced with something called a “dosage” added during the fermentation process. Dosage is a mixture of reserve wine and pure cane sugar which takes the edge off wines that could otherwise present the palate with troubling notes. In historical times we heavily sweetened champagne, but these days a dryer taste is preferred anyway. Still, brut champagne can sometimes contain up to 15g of added sugar per litre.
For truly bone dry sparkling wines, you have to ditch the dosage. It is difficult to get things right without one; they cover up a lot of imperfections, but also conceal the wine’s minerality and some of its deeper complexities. The danger of no-dosage is wine that tastes harshly sharp, with peppery bitter flavour. Amanda and her team (the wine is produced by Alexandre Penet) have perfected the process producing a crisp, light, easily drinkable, sugar free champagne. No pepper here.
The phrase “clean alcohol” has been used, but Amanda is keen to express that the calorie info and branding is not about counting calories but transparency. Sugar is a problem in today’s world, and Skinny Champagne seeks to cut it where it’s not necessary. Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne contains 0.1g of sugar per litre, and Skinny Prosecco up to 7g per litre (far lower than most Proseccos).
It teases hedonism in all that devout purity. I’m going with “half the calories, twice as much” and running with that for as long as I can.
Amanda Thomson started her career as a BBC presenter, before quitting and upping her family to Paris so she could study wine at Le Cordon Bleu. Following that she set up Skinny Champagne against all the odds in an industry notoriously difficult to break into. No doubt part (and it’s a small part, as this was no mean feat) of Amanda’s success lies in her utterly charming nature; she’s a joy to talk wine and life with. We caught five minutes to ask a few questions…
Can you tell us what drinking a glass of Skinny Champagne or Prosecco means to you?
I’m always reminded how gorgeous they taste – as special as the first time I discovered them – but also to know exactly what I’m drinking, to know exactly what’s in the glass. Most of all, it reminds me of the beautiful hills of Verzy in the heart of the Grand Cru Champagne region, and the valleys of Treviso filled with honeybees and wild flowers.
We’re planning our travel escapes for next year, any suggestions?
Iceland is next on my To Do list. I can’t wait to see the Northern Lights. But I’m not a fan of the cold so then maybe Mexico. Oh and I love the cuisine – and a no sugar mean Margarita with a salt glass rim!
Do you have a favourite London restaurant? Hard question, I know. You can pick a few.
Where to start? The Wolseley. Always. Forest on the roof at Selfridges where Skinny Prosecco is drunk like water. Margot, my friend Paulo’s new Covent Garden place is rather stunning too.
What’s next for you and Thomson & Scott – Skinny?
There are big international projects on our horizon for 2017; we’re launching across the East Coast of America and talking to some exciting partners in Canada and Australia from where we’re constantly receiving requests to buy, so watch this space globally! We’re also growing the portfolio with some super cool new bottles coming into the UK. I’m also personally set to spearhead a campaign across the industry for greater transparency in wine labelling. Essentially – busy.