8 Interesting Facts about English Sparkling Wine
7th March 2016
Sparkling wine is currently a hot product in the wine industry and even in the drinks industry as a whole. While sales of still wine have remained fairly steady, sparkling wine continues to storm ahead with sales increasing year on year.
Champagne sales are still rising gradually, but some relative ‘newcomers’ have helped boost the industry in the UK, particularly Prosecco and English sparkling wine.
If you’re still unsure about whether to try an English sparkling wine, we highly recommend you taste the superb quality for yourself!
Facts about English Sparkling Wine
1 – English sparkling wine dates back to 1662: The first sparkling wine made in England was recorded in 1662, however it wasn’t made with local grapes. The first sparkling wine grown with local grapes was in the 1950’s.
2 – More vines everyday: There are almost 500 vineyards in England and Wales. With the total land coverage of vineyards doubling since 2007, and plenty more people still applying for more, vineyards are becoming a more common sight in the country.
The government is also planning on identifying a further 75,000 hectares of prime land for producing English sparkling wine.
3 – The terroir is just as good as Champagne: The land in the south of England, mostly Surrey and Sussex, has very similar chalky soil to that in France’s Champagne region. The two islands were once connected over 450,000 years ago but gradually moved apart. Thanks to the warmer weather in recent years, the UK has a great climate for sparkling wine.
4 – Produced using traditional methods: English fizz is produced using the same methods used in Champagne. The labour-intensive method is called traditional method and results in a complex, high quality sparkling wine. Prosecco, for example, is made using the less expensive charmat method.
5 – You could soon be ordering a glass of ‘Sussex’: Unlike Champagne, Prosecco and many other wines, the UK has yet to apply a protected status to it’s bubbly. British winemakers have requested a PDO status (Protected Designation of Origin status). This helps protect the product from imitation and lower quality.
Sussex winemakers are expected to win a PDO status soon, so we could one day be ordering a glass of ‘Sussex’!
6 – It needs a catchy name – or does it? Winemakers and consumers seem to be torn over whether the product needs a catchier name than ‘English sparkling wine’. The Duchess of Cornwall herself even called for the industry to come up with a new name!
Some suggestions have been ‘Britagne’, ‘Albion’ and ‘Merret’ (after Christopher Merret, the first person to document the deliberate addition of sugar for the production of sparkling wine).
7 – It’s being used in official events instead of Champagne: It’s becoming more common to see English bubbly at official events. The Queen recently served Ridgeview English sparkling wine at a state banquet and Wiston Estate was used when she launched a new ship. UK embassies have started using English sparkling wine at events rather than Champagne to promote the country’s wine.
It was also served to British stars at the Oscars this year.
8 – English bubbly is world-class: The quality of many English sparkling wine rivals that of Champagne, even beating top Champagne houses in blind taste tests. It’s gaining world-wide recognition and winning awards.
Where to start?
If you want to try some English bubbly, see what your local wine merchants has to offer. Some of the most popular brands are Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Chapel Down, Hambledon, Camel Valley and Hattingley Valley. For more info check out English sparkling wines you may not have heard of.
Glass of Bubbly
Executive editor of news content for the website Please enjoy the articles that we share - We hope you find our love for Champagne & Sparkling Wines both interesting and educational.