By Julia McKie, Trainee Manager, Majestic Wine Maidstone
Wine drinking in Britain has rocketed in popularity over the past few decades. You are just as likely to find people nipping into their local for a glass of pinot as much as a pint. Yet Britain’s love of the grape is an ancient relationship that can be traced back millennia.
Julius Caesar was rather dubiously said to have introduced the vine to our shores and long before Caesar’s invasion, wine was being imported from Italy and other areas. Indeed, several tribal chieftains seem to have enjoyed it so much that they were buried with their wine cups – gleaming silver symbols of wealth and power.
Undoubtedly as Roman influence increased and the Briton’s were won over by the glamour of amphitheatres, baths and other continental sophistications, wine drinking also increased. In particular the wealthy Romano-British elite adopted wine as a more refined drink than mead, the local tipple of the masses.
The Ancient Britons were also influenced by the Roman attitude to wine, which was intrinsically bound up with religion. Bacchus (known as Dionysus to the Ancient Greeks) was worshipped as the god of the vine. He was also associated with rebirth, drama and transformations.
In the 21st Century the Brits are proving themselves to be more than capable wine-makers. Chapel Down in Kent has a picturesque vineyard in Tenterden complete with its own restaurant and has won numerous awards over the years.
Its sparkling English Rose is deliciously delicate. Strawberry and raspberry flavours predominate on the palate with just a hint of smokiness and a light creamy mousse; this sparkler would be a fantastic addition to any spring picnic.
The Chapel Down Flint Dry is another of my favourites: a blend of several unusual grape varieties. Besides chardonnay, it contains huxelrebe, bacchus, reichensteiner and rivaner. Uncompromisingly crisp and fresh this wine zings out of the glass at you, full of citrus, green apples and grassy aromas.
Why not try some English wine and maintain a tradition older than you may have realised? Contact your local Majestic store for details about ordering Chapel Down still and sparking wines.