How many bottles of sparkling wine does it take to celebrate the Winter Olympics? The Germans have the answer: around 1,500 750ml bottles and 100 jeroboams (or three litre) bottles.
“We had calculated for a big success,” says Heike Woyczyk, the event manager of Henkell & Co, Germany’s sparkling wine market leader, who sponsored the German House at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which closed this week.
Woyczyk said that about while half of each jeroboam ended up being sprayed over medal-winning athletes in the traditional sparkling shower, “half of it stayed in the bottle and then they wanted glasses”.
Getting the amount of wine right is always a significant challenge for sponsors – if the athletes fail to win medals, the bottles stand unopened. If they win more than expected, there might not be enough wine to go round. Woyczyk sounds mildly scandalized at the thought.
“It would never happen that we would run out,” she says.
The wine was organised three or four months in advance, and Woyczyk says the South Korean government made special arrangements for Olympic organisers and sponsors, so the wine could be shipped without bureaucratic hold ups.
Woyczyk, who is responsible for external events for the Henkell Group, and who has attended five Olympics so far, says that the 2018 Winter Olympics were particularly special, because the German House was only five minutes from the Olympic Village. “The athletes liked to join us and celebrate their success,” she says, noting that, thanks to Germany’s impressive medal tally, there were at least two sparkling showers each night, or “more or less 30 celebrations”.
“We made a medal walk to celebrate the athletes,” she says. “People could celebrate with their family and friends and they did it a lot.” Which is not surprising, because Germans are the highest consumers of sparkling wines in the world, at an average of five litres per capita. But they’re not the only ones – when the other athletes heard about the sparkling on offer, they made an appearance as well. “We had a lot of people from Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Canada and the USA,” says Woyczyk, adding that one of the most memorable nights was when American skier Lindsey Vonn, often described as the greatest skier the US has ever produced, paid a visit. “We were a big family over there. We could all celebrate together,” says Woyczyk.
Germany had a lot to celebrate, as their athletes earned 14 Gold, 10 Silver, and 7 Bronze medals, a tally that was bested only by Norway. Indeed, so successful were they, that, after their victory over the Canadian ice hockey team, the German Foreign Office had to issue a special travel advisory:
Headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, Henkell & Co – founded in 1832 – is one of Europe’s leading sparkling wine companies, with subsidiaries in 20 countries.