Wine had been made in England for hundreds of years, although had not really been relevant to until the last couple decades. Which makes us particularly lucky to be able to enjoy some great wines from a growing industry!
English Wine (note – different to British Wine) comes in many forms – Sparkling, white, red and sweet and in many different styles. It is the sparkling wine that has had the greatest success so far. Made from Champagne grape varieties in a climate not dissimilar from Champagne, the reputation for English Sparkling Wines has grown rapidly, and in fact was given a particular boost when it was an English Wine that beat the French Champagnes in a blind tasting of sparkling wines in Paris last year. Ooh la la!
While the sparkling wines may grab the headlines, the still wines should not be ignored. With a cool climate we can successfully make a variety of aromatic white wines from some slightly less well known grape varieties, and also some lovely Chardonnays, which have even been compared to Chablis (watch out France, again)! The red wines tend to be delicate, fragrant and soft in tannin, but with more wines made every year it is hard to sum them up with one description.
One thing is for certain, and that is that wine production in the UK is on the up, wine numbers of vineyards planted having doubled in the last 10 years, and set to double again in the next 10! This may also be bolstered by more regions becoming suitable for viticulture due to climate change. As the country gets warmer, more northerly parts may become used for wine too! Currently the most northerly vineyard is in York (this in itself is pretty impressive), but who knows what the future could bring – maybe we will even see some Scottish wine! (There have already been attempts to make wine in Scotland. It wasn’t very good.)
So all in all, English wine is just starting to hit it stride, with worldwide recognition for sparklings, and hopefully red and whites soon to follow. So why not pick yourself up a bottle and see what all the fuss is about!