What’s the difference between English wine and British wine?
Anything that’s English can also be classed as British, right? England is part of Great Britain!
When it comes to wine, there is a fundamental difference between English (or Welsh) wine and British wine, and it has nothing to do with politics.
So, what is English wine, or Welsh wine?
English wine (and Welsh wine) is wine made from grapes grown in England (or Wales). The vines are planted here, the grapes are grown here, and then they’re turned into wine here.
You can see there are some great perks to drinking English wine – imagine the carbon footprint difference drinking wine that’s made locally vs drinking wine that’s been imported from the other side of the world! Drinking English and Welsh wine supports business owners right here in the UK. Most of the vineyards we work with are owner-run and founded, by people who had a passion for English wine and turned it into a reality – what a boost to our economy it is to buy from them rather than buying foreign wine!
(Image - the team at Whitehall Vineyard - a family run vineyard in Wiltshire)
So, if English wine and Welsh wine is made here, then doesn’t that make it British wine?
This is where it can get a little confusing – British wine (or “British made wine” to use the legal term) is actually the name for a wine that’s been made from an imported grape concentrate. Quite often it’s not even imported as a liquid – it’s dehydrated abroad, shipped over, and then rehydrated here. The rehydrated concentrate is then fermented into wine in the UK, before being bottled.
The result is a low quality wine, that’s usually medium to sweet in flavour, and not dissimilar to wine that you might make at home if you bought a “Make Your Own Wine Kit”. This is reflected in the price point – a bottle of British wine can be found for as little as £3.50 a bottle, whereas you’ll be hard pressed to find a bottle of English wine for less than £10.
How do you tell the difference between English wine, Welsh wine and British wine?
All the wines we stock here at The British Wine Cellar are English or Welsh – we do not stock any British wines. Every single bottle has been produced from vine to bottle right here in England or Wales.
If you’re shopping out and about and want to be sure that you’re buying English or Welsh wine rather than British wine, you can check the label on the bottle.
English or Welsh wine will show “Wine of England” or “Wine of Wales”. If it meets certain criteria, it may say “English Quality Wine”, or “English Regional Wine”.
If you’ve picked up a bottle of British wine, it will say something along the lines of “Wine produced in Great Britain using imported grape concentrate”, or "Wine fermented in Great Britain using imported grape concentrate". It will not make any reference to English wine or Welsh wine - there are wine labelling regulations that ban this.
And of course, as above, there is a significant price difference between English wine and British wine – most English wines start from £9.99 a bottle, whereas British wines tend to be £3.50 up to maybe £6 a bottle.
(Image - some of our delicious, top quality English wines)
Having read the above, are you wondering why we called ourselves The British Wine Cellar rather than The English Wine Cellar, or The English & Welsh Wine Cellar?!
When we were working on our business plan, we had a very clear vision for the business long before we had a name. We knew we wanted to sell wines made from all across England and Wales, and that one day we might want to sell wines from Scotland (believe it or not, Scotland may be warm enough to produce grapes for winemaking one day!).
We wanted to include “Wine Cellar” in our name, as we really wanted to be about discovery, and to capture that feeling of walking through a wine cellar, discovering exciting new wines! We thought “The English & Welsh Wine Cellar” sounded a bit long, and a bit too specific, and whilst British wine isn’t what we’re selling, we are supporting British vineyards and winemakers across the UK, so it just felt right to call ourselves The British Wine Cellar.
So there you have it – that’s the difference between English wine and British wine! We strongly recommend drinking English and Welsh wine rather than British wine – discover our collection of English and Welsh wines here.