Drink up

This week it's English wine week, and it’s as good an opportunity as any to learn a little more about vino and celebrate our local wine producers. Here are seven things you need to know about English wine

This week it’s English wine week, and it’s as good an opportunity as any to learn a little more about vino and celebrate our local wine producers. There are amazing vineyards right here on our door step in Surrey.

1/ Priorities please, first let’s raise a glass of English Sparkling Wine to Brit scientist* Christopher Merret, who put the fizz into flat old wine way back in 1662.

2/ The Romans — those suave, sophisticates — loved quaffing a glass or two of Sancerre, feet-up watching some Gladitorial blood-fest. Brutal true, but they did drag us ale-swilling Celts kicking and screaming into the first century by planting vines right up to Lincolnshire.

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3/ Drink local my friends, drink local. Us booze-loving Brits slurp around 816 million bottles of wine annually, only 1% of that is English or Welsh wine. But times they are a changin’…

4/ English Sparkling Wine is the new Champagne, it’s official: get this from voice of yoof Vice. Not convinced? Well, sorry but the experts are. Surrey’s High Clandon Celebration Cuvée  has won a clutch of awards both here and internationally (and we’ll be toasting the Muddy Awards winners with a glass or two!). And English wines are now exported to Paris — a hard city to crack, as anyone who’s ever visited with pidgin French will know.

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5/ And talking of champers, did you know that Southern England’s soil — is it pretentious if I say terroir? I love the semantics of that word — is similar to the Champagne region, especially now we actually have a summer. Get digging, because the same chalk seam runs from Northern France across the Channel to the Home Counties.

6/ Surrey is a hot bed of all things English Wine. Exhibit a) Denbies Wine Estate is one of the largest wine producers in the UK. Exhibit b) The county now has several food and drink festivals including the Woking Food and Drink Festival (1-3 Sep); the Surrey Food Festival (which was in April) and many smaller wine festivals including the Dorking Wine Festival (23 Sep).

7/ To end, a random yet true fact. London’s East End wasn’t always hipsters, high rises and baggy-trousered Nineties boybands.  Yup way back circa 1660, a certain Lady Batten grew grapes on her country estate in erm, Walthamstow producing a “very good” red wine according to Pepys. Puts the term Grand Crew Cru in a totally different light, and Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring.

*OK history pedants, I know this is decades before The Union but saying ‘English’ twice in a sentence sounds shoddy, a’right.

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