Quick Recipes and Easy

British Wine – Really?

To some people, talking about British wine is like talking about flying pigs. In fact, one British winery has a flying pig as a logo on its web site!

These people might be surprised to find out that there are over 400 commercial wineries in England and Wales. Look at the web site of the UK Vineyards Association, scan down their list of awards, and you will realize how extensive the UK’s wine industry really is.

And it isn’t new. The English wine industry was widespread in the Middle Ages. After a long lapse, it started to revive again in the 1950s. It was the long hot summer of 1976 that encouraged people to believe they could really make a go of it.

If you want to visit England and Wales and want to explore the vineyards, the best place to start would be the traditional fruit-growing areas of Kent and Sussex. Norfolk and Suffolk are also fertile areas for vineyards. You could then go on to the west Midlands, the West Country and Wales.

Among the best known wineries are Denbies in Surrey, Breaky Bottom near the ancient market town of Lewes in Sussex, and the Three Choirs in Gloucestershire (so called from the traditional Three Choirs Festival held in the ancient cathedrals of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester). Most British wineries are “boutique” wineries – small, but full of character and very attractive to visit.

It’s no surprise that most of the best British wines are white. Reds are very vintage dependent as there isn’t enough constant sun to produce reds of consistent quality. But, 2003 was a excellent year for reds, and 2006 may also prove to be a excellent vintage.

White wines are often based on Bacchus and Seyval Blanc. Several are also based on Muller Thurgau, which is dull in Germany but surprisingly excellent in England. Most of these whites are tasty! Flowery and fruity, with a distinctive crisp freshness.

The only problem with British wines is – they aren’t cheap. They are not produced in sufficient quantities to bring the price down. This means very few are exported as they can’t compete on price with the huge names.

So – if you want to experience British wines, you will have to visit Britain! It will be a whole new experience for you – and a delightful one too!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Vintage Wine Associates, a small company for those who like wine and everything to do with it. For information about all aspects of wine and a selection of unique and original wine gifts, come and join us at myvintagewine.com myvintagewine.com

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