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7 English wine facts

Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring!

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 Gladiatorial 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.

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.  Did you know that Somerset’s very own Wraxall Vineyard near Shepton Mallet just won a Silver medal in the prestigious International Wine Challenge for its Rose Dry Sparkling Wine? Plus, English wines are now exported to Paris — a hard city to crack, as anyone who’s ever visited with pidgin French will know.

5/ And talking of champers, did you know that Southern England’s soil — is it pretentious if I say terroir? Just 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/ Somerset is getting to be a warmish (if not exactly hot) bed of all things English Wine.  And if you needed cold, dry and zesty proof, head along to some of our fave specialist wine merchants in the county – The Grape and the Good in Wells,  the Somerset Wine Company in Castle Cary,  Vine Wine  in Fivehead near Langport and the wine shop At the Chapel (you didn’t know they had a wine shop?) – and broaden your tastebuds.  Polishing my wine glass right now.

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.

Thanks to Muddy Hants editor Mary for digging deep on the fact-finding front!

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