Best English wines

Celebrate a homegrown success story with our pick of the best still and sparkling wines

Glasses of wine, with bottle pouring into one
(Image credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

British wine is a growth industry, with the amount of land growing vines increasing by 75% over the past five years.

In 2022, Britain produced 12.2 million bottles of wine, said Decanter last year, which was up by 130% on the 2017 figure. Last year also saw the country's "greatest ever grape harvest", said The Guardian, and the industry expects to produce "up to 22m bottles of wine this year", almost double last year's total, according to the WineGB trade body.

One common complaint is that English wine in particular is expensive. However, it is "still a young industry", said Which? magazine, with production being on a smaller scale than vineyards in other more established wine-growing countries. This brings with it "higher risk and higher production and promotion costs". In addition, our "unpredictable climate" makes growing conditions "challenging".

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Here are some of the best English wines to drink.

English white wine

Chapel Down Flint Dry, £17.99, Majestic

This is the winery's bestseller, comparable to a sauvignon blanc. It is "bursting with notes of juicy melon, sophisticated elderflower, gooseberry and refreshing grapefruit", said The Standard, although it's made from Bacchus grapes, a German variety well suited to the English climate. In summary: "The taste of an English summer's day in a glass." 

Waitrose English Dry White, £9.99, Waitrose

This slightly more affordable option offers "plenty of complexity given the price", said Good Housekeeping, awarding it "best supermarket English wine" in last autumn's taste tests. It praised its "notes of honeysuckle, elderflower and lashings of citrus zest".

English sparkling wine

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018, Gusbourne, £65

Coming from the Kent winery near Ashford, this was acclaimed as "one of the best in the world at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards", said the Daily Mail. Judges spoke of its "almost severe citrus purity, a seaside freshness, and an unmistakable stoniness", said Decanter.

Woolton Sparkling Rosé 2014, £36, Woolton 

Made in a single vineyard in the village of Bekesbourne near Canterbury, Kent, from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, this pink fizz's "rich and fruity flavours" combine "roasted nuts, zesty lemon and buttery brioche", said The Standard.

English rosé wine

Sharpham Pinot Rosé 2022, £18, Sandridge Barton 

From Sandridge Barton, who've been producing wine for over 40 years "in Devon's Dart valley", comes this pinot rosé, hailed by The Times as its "best rosé yet", which has "elegant, sweetly fruited, redcurranty" notes.

English red wine

Denbies, Pinot Noir 2022, £24.95, Denbies 

Made exclusively from pinot noir grapes, an English wine grower's favourite, this is a wine that England's largest vineyard, near Dorking in the Surrey North Downs, makes only "in excellent years", said The Independent. This "simple and quaffable" red is "perfumed on the nose, with dried rose petals, red and dark cherry, Earl Grey, and graphite minerals", said Decanter.

English orange wine

Knightor Muscat Skin Fermented 2022, £22, Knightor 

A relatively new hue, at least for wine, orange wine is made by keeping the skins in contact with the fermenting grape juice, "from which it extracts colour, flavours and tannins", explained The Telegraph. "This results in a wine that glows amber and has increased viscosity, as well as a subtle texture and bite." This means it's "more of a sipper than a sluicer". Try this "exquisite" English example, that's made in Cornwall using muscat grapes grown in Essex. Pale apricot in colour, it's "floral and fragrant".

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us