The French did not invent sparkling wine. Take a minute to let that statement sink in, given how bubbly has always been synonymous with Champagne (both the region and the beverage). Even beyond that appellation, there is crémant, the broader umbrella term for French sparkling wines. France has declared ownership over the category since 1697, when the monk Dom Pérignon purportedly discovered champagne making, but the origins of the method are far more English.
In 1662, about 35 years prior to Pérignon’s invention, a scientist in England named Christopher Merrett recorded the English practise of secondary fermentation being used to make wines in the nation. Though France has popularised sparkling wines and taken the category to its zenith, England remains the one to thank for pioneering the invention.
Fast forward to about 350 years later, and English sparkling wines are coming out of obscurity. Once the domain of drinkers in the know, England is giving France a small run for its money by bringing its sparkling wines to the mainstream.
English sparkling wines are primarily terroir-driven, flaunting the nuances of a particular plot and its influence on the product. While most of the English winemakers adhere to the classic trio of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, the uniqueness of the land gives the resulting beverage an entirely different profile than those you find in France. So much so that British produce have swept up awards across the world at global competitions, including the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC).
If that isn’t enough cred for you yourself a break from champagne and branch out into the world of British bubbly, we don’t know what is. To get started, here are some brands of English sparkling wines we’re particularly fond of.