There are a few names that spring to mind when one thinks about English Sparkling Wine: Nyetimber and Ridgeview. Hattingley Valley, Camel Valley, and Hattingley Valley may also come to your mind. It is not easy to find their wines on the “on-trade” market. It is not that the winemaking regions in the U.K. do not have a growing popularity. However, comparing English Sparkling Wine to Champagne is like comparing a Ferrari to an Aston Martin. Both offer incredible experiences but have subtle differences.
There is much to be proud of, especially with our talent. Some vineyards have indeed been producing wine in the U.K. for decades, but there has recently been a surge in interest in buying locally and understanding where and how it is made.
The U.K. restaurant industry (Covid included) is currently booming. Many new restaurants are opening every day, and they all focus on what the earth has to offer. Priority is given to keeping things local and mindful of the aspirational concept of sustainability. It is almost regional – Cornwall is a haven for seafood lovers and boasts some of the finest fish and shellfish in the world.
English Sparkling Wine has become increasingly popular in restaurants. But what about still wines?
It is wonderful to see that so many restaurants in the U.K. are supporting British cheeses. British wine does not seem as popular. Why? One of the main issues, I think, is that these vineyards are simply not producing enough wine to meet the demand. The U.K.’s most popular wine style is (arguably) New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It is dry, zesty, and full of ripe fruit. It can also be very affordable. But it’s harder to find a bottle made in New Zealand than an English Bacchus. I like the idea of going to my local pub or restaurant and enjoying a local product cooked by the chef that day while also drinking something locally made. Some may find it a romantic notion, but I think we should take it more seriously.
We must do all we can to make sure that these vineyards are able to survive. Maybe the vineyards can do more to promote their wine in restaurants, bars, and pubs across the U.K. Perhaps the vineyards should be promoting their wines in top restaurants and bars in the U.K. to encourage people to drink more local wine.
I believe that we are entering a golden era of British Wine. Many of the finest producers in the U.K. are now the mainstay of wine lists across the U.K., and people are drinking more sparkling wines from the U.K. than any other country.
Until next time,
Keep smiling, stay safe, and drink locally.
This bottle, which is incredibly fruity and round, is sure to be a hit on Valentine’s Day.
At the moment, no. If I write another English Wine book, it will be quite different from this or its predecessor. The U.K. wine industry has not yet been covered in enough depth. While a regional book was successful in the context of Sussex By The Glass, I feel that it is too soon to divide U.K. wine production neatly into regional divisions.