Is English Wine Any Good?

Posted on 01 Jun 2017 by Anna Scott
We’re famous for many things – a self-deprecating sense of humour, nice pubs and Yorkshire puddings for starters - but it’s fair to say that wine isn’t one of them. However, the growing reputation of English wine both at home and abroad might be changing this perception. With English sparkling wines now winning awards and acclaim usually reserved for the historical and lauded Champagne houses on the other side of the Channel, the time is right to find out a bit more about these homegrown bottles, and what better time that in the middle of English Wine Week?


English seyval blanc grapes

Cracking English Sparkling Wines

They’re the jewel in the crown of the English wine industry, and the chances are you’ve seen a bottle featured on many wine lists and supermarkets shelves. Thanks to skilled producers and the regular higher summer temperatures associated with climate change, we seem to be rather good at making the stuff, and this has naturally led to an increase in demand. In the last ten years, the number of grapevines planted in England and Wales (let’s not forget Welsh wine) has increased by 135% and lots of producers like Ridgeview, Camel Valley and Nyetimer have a strong following, but the fact that Champagne houses like Taittinger are now buying up vineyards Kent is testament to the growing international reputation of English sparkling wine. Whereas you could only find one or two bottles available in selected retailers a few years back, these days sites like Waitrose Cellar have a huge choice of English wine, with well over half their range made up of the sparkling variety. So yes, it’s safe to say that in the context of sparkling bottles then English wine is very good indeed. Some might say the best.


Robust English Roses

We wrote last week about a few things you might not know about rose, but one thing we omitted to mention was the growing number of English roses you can now find on the market. Amongst those sparkling wines we’ve already mentioned you can find plenty of pink bubbles too, and because our climate is very similar to that of the Champagne region in France, the red grapes used to make these English versions are the same as in rose Champagne – Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A lot of still English rose wine is also made from these grape varieties, but you can also find English rose made from the Dornfelder grape (a grape often used in German red wine). These English roses are very crisp and dry, with summer fruit flavours, making them excellent matches with seafood, salad and white meats.


Enticing English White Wines

Many of the grapes we associate with popular white wines (such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio) you won’t find in English versions, mainly because our climate isn’t warm enough for them to achieve the required ripeness. However, all is not lost because English and Welsh wine producers work with grapes that are much more suited to our slightly cooler and unpredictable weather such as the lesser known Bacchus and Seyval Blanc. Much like the English roses, these make very dry wines but are no less delicious because of this. So again, in answer to our original question, this sort of English wine is very good indeed.


It’s fair to say that many English wines are probably not going to knock our European or Australian favourites of their wine pedestals, but some of them certainly deserve a try if you want something different to go with your summer barbecue. And if you have a special occasion on the horizon that demands some bubbles, then surely some English or Welsh sparkling wine should now be the order of the day?

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