I’ve recently finished reading A Celebration of English Wine by Liz Sagues. We have over 500 commercial vineyards in the UK contributing wine to 160 wineries. All of the stats point towards strong growth: in expertise, in volume, and in quality. It’s now become a slight habit to seek out English wine wherever I go.
Wine tastes have changed a lot over the last few years. The so-called international style popularised in the 80s and 90s is in fast decline. What the French call terroir - the soil, the way the climate affects growth, the positioning of the vines, the agriculture, etc - is now one of the most cherished properties of a wine.
Our own terroir is fantastic. Much has been said about Champagne-like conditions for Sussex sparkling wine, but try tasting an East Anglian bacchus and not getting transported to a childhood of picking fruit from a hedgerow.
As we drove through Sussex on the way back from Brighton on Sunday, I have to say I was a little saddened to find a gastropub serving just one English wine.
This year’s weather, however, feels particularly set to be fantastic year (fingers crossed). Perhaps a stellar year of not just world-class sparkling wines - but also of zesty, vibrant whites and, dare I say it, a few brilliant reds - will be enough to boost some homeward demand for this blossoming industry.
In the mean time, next time you’re in your local restaurant or bar, ask if they have any English wine on offer and give it a go. If not, those gentle nudges might just start to persuade the buyers and those with the power in their hands.