Forget French fizz, and put down that Pinot, because Saturday sees the start of English Wine Week. We may be better-known around the globe for our tea-making tendencies but it turns out the English are also pretty well-versed when it comes to vines.
Last year saw England’s largest wine harvest, with around 6.3m bottles produced, yet many wine lists still lack a native bottle. However, lots of places in London ARE pouring vino from Blighty. Here are the best places in London to pop your English wine cork next week.
Right in the middle of Borough Market, Roast has been serving British classics for nearly 10 years and this English Wine Week its teamed-up with English wine producer Chapel Down to serve two special dinners on 26 and 27 May. Four English courses — including haddock croquettes and roast new season lamb — will be paired with Chapel Down wines, introduced by Roast's sommelier. Tickets are £85.
Roast, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL
The Shed / Rabbit
These two restaurants don’t just serve English wines, their owners — brothers Oliver, Richard and Gregory Gladwin — have their own vineyard, in West Sussex. You can sample both the still and sparkling varieties of the wines they produce at either restaurant, both of which focus on fresh-farmed and foraged produce, and nose-to-tail cooking.
The Fish & Chip Shop
Wine may not be the most quintessential English drink, but fish and chips must be the most iconic English meal. If you fancy pairing a bottle of local plonk with your plaice, The Fish & Chip Shop (one in the City, one in Islington) serves its own labelled English sparkling wine from the Gusbourne Estate for £23 a bottle. It's the citrusy flavours of the sparkling wine that pair so well with fish and chips.
The Fish & Chip Shop, Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, EC2M 1QS and 189 Upper Street, N1 1RQ
The Wine Pantry
Top of the pile when it comes to English wine is Borough Market’s Wine Pantry, which serves exclusively British vino. Owner Julia Stafford aims to make the often pricey wine both affordable and accessible, helped by the fact that you can get more than 20 English wines by the glass — or simply to taste — thanks to the shop’s enomatic machines. Enjoy with cured meats and cheeses, many of which are also English.
The Wine Pantry, Borough Market, 1 Stoney Street, SE1 9AA
The Prince of Wales Feathers
What could be more English than a pub? Perhaps drinking an English-made wine in that pub? You can do just that at The Prince of Wales Feathers near Warren Street station. It serves a sparkling Ridgeview Cavendish Brut 2010 for £48 a bottle. We’ve heard on the grapevine they’ve got a brand new rooftop garden to enjoy it on too.
The Prince of Wales Feathers, 8 Warren Street, W1T 5LD
London’s first winery, London Cru, source grapes from European vineyards then ships them to its Fulham base within 36 hours of being harvested. You can sip its stock at spots across London including Foxlow, The Palomar, Timberyard and Bleeding Heart. For a more involved experience the winery runs Winemaker For The Day events, with one taking place just after English Wine Week, on 30 May. There's plenty of sampling, a tour around the winery and you get to make your own wine to take home.
London Cru, 21-27 Seagrave Road, SW6 1RP
Do you know of any more places to celebrate English Wine Week? Let us know in the comments below.
By Tom Stephenson