Foreign Office shifts to English wine

Around 52 per cent of wine served at high-end events at the British Foreign Office is now English. The government is increasing the number of wines made in England that they buy every year, as well as those served at official events. Ideal Wine Company take a look at why the shift to English wine has occurred.

Figures show that 3,052 bottles of wine were bought during the last 12 months. Of these, 1,500 are English (equivalent to 50 per cent). Ten years ago, English wines in the government’s cellar consisted of only 20 per cent.

Ideal Wine Company english wine
How is the Government shifting to English wine?

Serve British for Brexit

Miles Beale of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association is happy with this increase. He says: “We have urged government departments to ‘serve British’ and it’s great to hear that the FCO is stocking, serving and therefore supporting English wine.

“Consumers worldwide have woken up to the fact that English wine is a product of supreme quality.”

Government wine cellar
The government has had its very own wine cellar for many years. It’s looked after by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and is meant to be self-sustaining in financial terms.

Wines are generally bought young and left to mature. The annual statement for 2015 to 2016 shows that the cellar boasted 33,669 bottles of wine and spirits. The total value for the cellar’s inventory was £800,000 as at March 2016.

Selecting wine for events

Wines are selected for use at each event, depending on what kind of event it is and who is invited. The more senior the invited guests, the better the quality of wine they are served.

A private member’s bill was introduced in March by MP Nusrat Ghani to make sure that British consulates and embassies serve English wine at events. She said: “In a post-Brexit world, we must do all we can to get behind industries that show the sort of potential of our wine industry.”

Wine producer Jonica Fox, who is based in East Sussex, is also pleased with the figures. She said: “The Foreign Office is now flying the flag for us all.” As the UK is now home to more than 500 vineyards and produces millions of bottles of wine every year, it looks like this is one industry that could thrive post Brexit.

Take a close look at Prosecco

Sparkling Prosecco is more popular than ever, with plenty of bottles being quaffed all through the year. No longer just for celebrations, it’s taken its place as one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the UK, Ideal Wine Company review the nation’s favourite bubbly.

This ever-increasing market has also led to an increase in producers, styles, flavours and the number of vineyards needed to meet the demand. But what makes Prosecco so popular and why does it taste so good?

Ideal Wine Company Prosecco in flutes
Prosecco is one of Britain’s favourite drinks – what makes it so popular?

Location, location, location

The key flavours in Prosecco come from its grape variety, the production method and, crucially, the location of the vineyards. The Italian favourite is grown in a huge area in north-east Italy, which covers hills, valleys and land just inland of Venice.

With an area of 20,000 hectares up until last year, when another 3,000 ha were added to try and keep up with demand, the region is vast. However, it’s still smaller in size than Champagne, which covers 33,000 hectares and is therefore a third larger than Italy’s Prosecco producing area.

Larger output than Champagne

While its area might be smaller, the region produces more bottles of Prosecco than Champagne manages. In 2016, it produced almost 475 million bottles, significantly more tan the average production of the Champagne region of 320 million bottles of fizz.

This is mostly because the climate in Champagne results in lower yields per hectare. The region contends with frost when the crops are flowering and battles bunch rot during harvest, while Italy doesn’t have the same problems. There is also a very strict process of regulation in Champagne, which further restricts the number of bottles produced.

Best Prosecco areas

The most productive areas are the hills of Montello and Asolo, the regions of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and the slops of Cartizze.

The grape variety used is also important for the distinct and more-ish flavour of Prosecco. The region took its name from the grape which was known as ‘Prosecco’ until 2009, when it was changed to ‘Glera’.

This was part of a move by growers to protect the region and the product. They registered the word ‘Prosecco’ as a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). It was registered with the EU as Prosecco DOC. This effectively means that anyone who grows the Glera grape (which used to be known as Prosecco) outside of the DOC, cannot sell it as Prosecco within the EU.

Floral and fruity

The Glera grape results in a wine with the floral-fruity flavours that we know and love from Prosecco. Most commonly you’ll find aromas of pear and apple, and when really ripe melon and peach.

Other grape varieties are allowed to be used in making Prosecco. These include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco, but legally all Prosecco must have at least 85 % Glera.

How it’s made

Most Prosecco is made using the Charmat method (also known as the ‘tank’ or ‘Italian’ method. It goes through a second fermentation in a stainless-steel vat and is then bottled under pressure. This is what gives Prosecco its fizz.

Generally, this method gives a fruity, sweet and pleasing sparkling wine, which should be drunk while young. And it’s all of these reasons that make Prosecco the favourite, particularly in the UK, which accounts for a third of all sales.

Celebrate the return of boxed wine!

If you thought boxed wine was relegated to 70s dinner parties or student soirees, then you may be surprised to hear that it’s back with a bang in the UK. Ideal Wine Company reviews the growing popularity of boxed wine.

Following the trend for all things retro, it seems that UK consumers can’t get enough of the old favourite boxed wine. Data from Amazon shows that sales have rocketed so far this summer, making 2017 the year or the boxed wine revival.

Slightly rebranded to be known as ‘bag-in-box’ wine, the product has jumped a massive 200% in terms of UK sales at Amazon. What’s behind this resurgence?

Ideal Wine Company boxed wine
Boxed wine is making a return within the UK!

Convenience and choice

It seems that there a few factors involved with this product’s come back, including the convenience it offers and the fact that there are much higher quality products available. Add these to an increase of consumer interest in environmental awareness, and it seems logical that boxed wine sales would jump this year.

Amazon.co.uk shows a 212% increase for sales of boxed wine during June and July 2017, when directly compared to the same months in 2016. Bristol has been at the forefront of the sales, with a 650% surge in the south-western city. Next up is Leeds with sales up 325% and then London with sales increased by 137%. (These figures are as at 27 July 2017).

New ranges announced

Always a retailer that’s on board with new trends, Waitrose announced recently that it’s launching a range of premium bag-in-box wines for eager customers to enjoy. The first of these is a boxed Provence rose, which combines the two trends of the 2017 UK summer.

Amazon reported that its most popular boxed wines are JP Chenet Cabernet, which is up 362% for the June/July period, followed by El Emperador Sauvignon Blanc, which is up 216%. Next comes Banrock Station Chardonnay up 150% and Banrock Station Shiraz is close behind with sales up 123%.

Easily transportable

As it can easily be moved from picnic to barbecue, it’s no wonder that having more choice is helping boxed wine become more popular. It seems consumers are happy to move past the unfair preconceptions boxed wine used to suffer and fully embrace the convenience and environmental upside to boxed wine.

Five-year strategy launched by Drinkaware

In recent years, young people have been turning more to either complete abstinence or moderate drinking. This shift has prompted UK-based alcohol charity Drinkaware to launch a new campaign targeting older drinkers. Ideal Wine Company reviews the new campaign.

These changing habits in the consumption of alcohol are shown by lower total alcohol sales to young people. Alcohol sales peaked in 2008, and have been steadily declining since, with around 15 per cent of the adult population of the UK choosing to abstain from alcohol completely.

The levels of underage drinking are also going down, with the number of 11-15 year-old children saying they have imbibed alcohol in the preceding week at a ten-year low – at only eight per cent.

Ideal Wine Company Drinkaware
Drinkaware launches new five-year campaign.

Targeting older drinkers

Therefore, the charity has decided to target the older generation when it comes to communicating the detrimental impact of drinking too much. They have three long term goals for their new five-year strategy. These are:

  • Reducing the number of older people drinking more than the government guidelines on alcohol. These were lowered to 14 units per week in January 2016
  • Providing information and advice about the dangers of drinking to excess
  • Engaging effectively with consumers.

Changes in UK drinking culture

CEO for Drinkaware, Elaine Hindal, said: “Drinking culture and habits in the UK have shifted significantly over the past five years and our new strategy reflects these changing currents.

“People are seeking information and advice in new ways and are increasingly looking for personalised help, support and advice about alcohol and its relationship to their health and wellbeing.”

The five-year plan is based on Drinkaware’s understanding of people’s behaviour as well as building on the progress they have made over the last decade or so.

Their new campaign targets men aged between 45 and 65, who drink frequently at home. It’s called “Have a Little Less, Feel a Lot Better”, and aims to modify this behaviour for this group of consumers. This demographic is disproportionately at risk of health issues due to alcohol consumption.

The charity has also launched a free resource for schools. Called Drinkaware for Education, it’s for teachers in primary and secondary schools and aims to help them identify people who are at risk from alcohol.