English wines – buy your wine bottles!
For years, English wines had a very dubious reputation for being overly-sweet and rather unpleasant and unsophisticated. In recent years, however, the English wine industry has very much come of age, with English wines holding their own as a premium product in many markets. In today’s blog post, we take a look at how English wine has grown up, how the industry is developing, and what the best new vineyards are producing.
3.5 million wine bottles a year
It is easy to assume that production of English wines does not amount to very much, as the industry – much like the English themselves – is rather shy and retiring when it comes to overt self-promotion. The producers have evidently been letting their wines do the talking; according to Decanter magazine, there are now over 450 active vineyards in the UK, producing 3.5 million bottles a year. This is an awful lot of glass bottles filled with the fruits of English vines, English dedication and expertise. Decanter estimates that the industry was worth around £100m in 2015, which is certainly not small fry.
Technically, the English climate means that vineyards are possible throughout the country; however, the milder temperatures of the south-east of the country mean that wine production is heavily clustered across Kent and Sussex. When renowned champagne brand Taittinger buys a vineyard in England, it is fair to say that the English wine sector must be doing something right!
What are the best English wines hitting the shelves right now? Boot Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir from Kent-based firm Gusbourne is an award-winning red that holds many top-notch French labels to account; on the white wine front, Denbies’ Noble Harvest has caught the eye of Waitrose, which stocks it alongside a number of superb English whites. Sparkling wine is where it all began for English winemakers and they do not come better than the superlative fizz produced by Hampshire-based vineyard Jenkyn Place. Again, these are available from Waitrose or direct from the producer.
Fill your own wine bottles
If all this talk of English wine has got you thinking, why not have a go at making your own wine? You could try some classic fruit wine recipes, such as plum wine, elderflower wine or peach wine; alternatively, if you have a grape vine growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel, you could even give it a go with your very own grapes. All you need is a supply of suitable glass bottles, some basic fermenting kit, and a lot of enthusiasm.
Have you sampled some spectacular English wines? Share your recommendations with us via Twitter or Facebook.