Long gone are the days when restaurant wine lists were dominated by French, Italian and Spanish labels. English wine is finally making the cut – and it’s taking the wine world by storm.
Fine English fizz is enjoying a huge surge in recognition and production, and now holds its weight in international wine competitions against the cream of Europe and the New World regions.
And it’s no longer a tiny, cottage industry. Today, England has over 115 wineries, and over 400 vineyards – mostly located in the south of England.
Forget the sweet, cidery plonk of yesteryear – instead, expect a light, delicate, aromatic style.
Our cooler climate produces light, subtly scented wines – look at the produce of the relatively northern Loire, Mosel and Champagne regions for comparison.
Global warming has meant that England – and southern England in particular – can ripen grapes just that little bit more than it used to.
Pick a dry white and you should be able to spot some of that distinctive quality of decent English wine.
The sparklers are considered especially fine – with a mineral freshness, zesty lemon and lime flavours, and a delicate toasty hint.
Don’t expect mature full-bodied reds from our climate – instead, think soft, light and berried – rather like a simple Beaujolais.
Lightly chilled, and served with cold meats, salads and mild cheeses, an English red makes a great glassful.
But if you prefer super-rich, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Viognier – all grapes which need very hot sun to ripen – then England may not be the wine region for you.
What works with English wine?
(22 November 2013)