English Sparkling Wine Classifications

23rd March 2023

English Sparkling Wine Classifications

English Sparkling Wine can only be made in the Traditional Method, (the way they make Champagne), if an English Winery wanted to make their Sparkling Wine in the Charmat/Tank Method (the way they make Prosecco) they can’t label themselves as English Sparkling Wine, instead, they must state something different, like Sparkling Wine Made In England.

The classifications of English Sparkling Wine are constantly evolving, it’s still fairly new, and as of right now, they are yet to find the perfect wording or to find the best areas for growing grapes, it’s unknown if they will decide to create a region like Champagne or Prosecco, or if they will continue to allow English Sparkling Wine to be produced anywhere in the country.

There are some new classifications on the rise in England, but the very important thing to note is that they are all optional and not required to follow.

PDO – Protected Designation of Origin – This is what they are labelling as the top standard of English Sparkling Wine, and allows you to use the word ‘English’ or ‘Welsh’ on the label, but to gain PDO classification, you can only use these 6 grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir Precoce, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, the grapes must come from the country you are making your Sparkling Wine with no hybrids allowed.

Just last year, Sussex earned PDO status. Sparkling wines can only be called ‘Sussex’ if they are grown in the region of West Sussex and East Sussex and meet a strict set of conditions.

Sussex sparkling wine must be made in the traditional method, predominantly from classic sparkling wine grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier which are grown in the region. The following grapes may all be used: Arbanne, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Pinot Noir Précoce.

PGI – Protected Geographical Indication – To get PGI classification you are allowed to use 88-90 vine varieties, including hybrid grapes, you’re allowed to state ‘English Regional’ or ‘Welsh Regional’ on your label and can use 15% of grapes grown from another country in the UK, so England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Varietal – This is the bottom of the pile, sitting at a questionable level, if it’s a vintage, at least 85% of the grapes must have come from that year, 85% of the grapes used in the wine must be the stated variety or 100% of the stated varieties in order of prevalence, and these bottles can only be labelled as ‘Varietal Wine’, you couldn’t use ‘English’ or ‘Welsh’ or ‘English Regional’ or ‘Welsh Regional’ on the label.

You can currently buy land and plant vines anywhere in England and start producing English Sparkling Wine, or Sparkling Wine Made In England.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.