When people think of fine wines, English wines may not be the first to come to mind. However, there are many notable English wines, and the British wine industry has grown in recent years due in large part to a warming trend that has created a more suitable climate for grape growing.
In recent years, the English wine industry has seen a great deal of enthusiastic innovation and is beginning to reap the rewards, both in sales and in international accolades. Many English vintners are also producing organic and sustainable wine varieties. In fact, in 2005 an English vineyard called RidgeView vineyard won the award for Best Sparkling Wine in the 2005 International Wine and Spirit Competition, besting entrants from the world over.
Classifying English Wines
Wine that is grown in the United Kingdom is generally classified as either English wine or Welsh wine. Wines that are termed British wines tend to carry a connotation of being of an inferior grade, thus this moniker is not used for the finer vintages produced in the British Isles. (The term “British wine” usually refers to a fermented beverage made of imported grape juice.)
English wines are generally categorized as either quality wines or table wines, with the latter being subject to less-stringent controls and quality.
British Winemaking Regions
Winemaking has traditionally been more of a challenge in England given the cold, damp climate of the United Kingdom. English vineyards and wineries are concentrated in southern counties, with 350 vineyards in England and 17 vineyards in Wales accounted for in the most recent official count.
Types of British Wines: White Wines
White wine grapes reign supreme in British vineyards and wineries. English whites have a high level of acidity and are considered very fruity and floral. Seyval Blanc is the most commonly grown variety in the United Kingdom. Seyval Blanc is a hybrid grape used for white wine.
Reichensteiner, also a white wine grape, is the second most popular grape grown in Britain. This variety is also grown in Germany, where it was first grown in 1939. Given its high sugar content, Reichensteiner is particularly suited to cold weather.
The third most popular English grape is M”ller-Thurgau. Bacchus, another white wine grape that is a cross between Rivaner, Silvaner and Riesling, comes in fourth.
Other widely grown varieties of white grape include:
- Madeleine Angevine