british

Italian Sparkling Wine On Tap, Is It Prosecco?

Prosecco, the Italian cousin to France’s champagne, has quickly been gaining in popularity in the UK, but are you enjoying the real thing? Not if your prosecco is served on tap apparently.

Last year global sales of Prosecco overtook Champagne for the first time. In the UK, Prosecco achieved a 74.6% uplift in sales in the year to 20th July 2014 according to Kantar Worldpanel. There was similar staggering double-digit growth in 2013 with an increase in sales of £70 million.

Such is the staggering popularity of this sparkling gem that many eateries and pubs in the UK have started to sell it on tap. The advantage being a super sparkly glass of fizz without having to order a full bottle. However, according to EU Regulations, Prosecco must be produced in the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area of north-east Italy (just as champagne must come from the Champagne region of France) and must be marketed exclusively in traditional glass bottles. So if it arrives on tap, it is not Prosecco.

The trend of pubs selling Prosecco from barrels so alarmed Italian producers that they contacted the Food Standards Agency asking them to stop the sale of prosecco on tap. The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that it is not an acceptable practice to sell prosecco in this way. As such, it is perfectly permissible to serve Italian sparkling wine on tap, but it cannot be called Prosecco.

So if you simply want a glass of Italian sparkling wine, by all means order from the tap, but if you want the real thing, buy a bottle!

Image is “Prosecco vineyards” by John W. Schulze is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Another Glass Of Sussex Please!

Sussex is famous for many things. The Royal Pavilion at Brighton, the Long Man of Wilmington, and Bodiam Castle (pictured). Its is also (weirdly) where banoffee pie was first created in 1972. If these things are not enough to show Sussex as exemplary, then why not Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for it’s wines?

A few days ago Decanter Magazine reported that English wine producers are making a bid to obtain PDO status for wineries in Sussex. PDO would bring them the same protected status as wines from Champagne.

PDO is the most prestigious of the three geographical indications offered by the European Union for the protection and promotion of agricultural products. The other two are Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG).

PDO is the strictest designation. It states that a product has been entirely produced within a region that gives the product unique properties. For example, beef produced wholly on Orkney has PDO status and can be labelled as Orkney beef. Beef produced in Scotland, including from Orkney, has PGI status and is labelled Scotch beef. So If the beef comes from cows raised in Orkney, but is prepared in the Outer Hebrides, it can only have Scotch beef PGI status as it wasn’t wholly produced on Orkney.

The UK already has 65 products with protected status. Far less than Portugal (125), France (217) and Italy (267). If successful, Sussex wine would join PDO holders such as Native Shetland Wool, Jersey Royal Potatoes and our favourite cheese, Swaledale. Given that English wine has already been granted a PDO, what advantage does a Sussex PDO designation bring?

Well, English wine may be enjoying its most successful years, but presumably it’s easier to market Sussex sparkling wine rather than English sparkling wine. For example, ordering a bottle of Sussex in a restaurant sounds more pleasing than ordering a bottle of English…

And why not have a go! English sparkling wines have been racking up the awards. In the 2014 International Wine Challenge competition they were awarded 5 gold medals and two trophies. Obtaining PDO status would be another big boost to the reputation of wines produced in Sussex, and England in general.

It is perhaps debatable how the varying landscape of Sussex can be realistically expected to imbue the geographical characteristics a PDO is meant to guarantee. But with the English wine retail sector forecast to hit £100m this year, and the number of wineries in the UK at an all time high, this latest PDO is clear evidence of a confident market.

Interestingly Nyetimber, one of the most famous UK producers, has two thirds of its vineyards in Sussex and a third in Hampshire, and so would be excluded from applying the PDO designation to its’ products.

Image is “Bodiam-castle-10My8-1197” by WyrdLight.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Colour Red Dominates Chinese Wine Consumption Habits

The colour red carries great cultural significance in China. It is associated with fire, success, happiness and good fortune. This contrasts sharply with the colour white, which is associated with purity but also death. White is a colour for funerals and mourning.

Perhaps it is not surprising then that in the world’s fifth largest market for wine, over 85% of the 2.17 billion bottles consumed annually are red.

According to research by VInexpo and International Wine and Spirit Research published last year, consumption of wine in China rocketed 136% between 2008 and 2013, making China the largest consumer of red wine in the world. Through the same period, consumption of spirits also increased over 82%. This means that China consumes over 40% of spirits annually world wide!

Around one in five of those 2 billion bottles is imported and half of those imported come from France. Perhaps its not surprising then that recently the Telegraph reported that the hundredth Bordeaux chateau has passed into Chinese ownership. China is now the principle export market for Bordeaux wines, with the UK the second largest market.

Apparently 80% of wine produced from those 100 chateaux now makes its way to china were it can fetch prices around ten times higher than the achievable price in France.

Do not fear though, if you are interested in purchasing a chateau in Bordeaux there are more than 8,400 others to choose from!

Image is “Cars, Gironde” by michael clarke stuffCars, Blaye 02 HDR. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Britons To Spend More On Wine Than The French

Since the credit crunch of 2008 we might be drinking less in Blighty but that hasn’t stopped the value of the UK wine market increasing by 15% to around £10.6 billion in 2014.

At this point, you could rightly conclude that if we are drinking less wine but spending more then its because of tax.

Tax on wine has gone up considerably in the UK since 2008, by almost 60% (£1.56 to £2.47 inc. VAT). Thats quite a lot, and the third highest in Europe behind Ireland and Finland (they have VAT at 23% and 24% respectively!) In France you’d pay just 3 pence in duty on a bottle of wine… sigh…

However, its not just tax, our spending habits have changed. Apparently the biggest growth is in the premium wines area for bottles costing between £7 and £14.

So we are drinking less but prepared to spend more to get a better product. If we continue to do that then by 2018 we will be spending £11.3 billion a year according to forecasts by Vinexpo, and we will have displaced France as the world’s second biggest still wine market. The US is the biggest and currently bigger than the French and British markets combined.

Full story in the FT.