British Wine versus English Wine: The Potential PR Disaster

biddendenBritish wine is a distinct and very different product to English wine. If you have tried ‘British’ wine it tends to be sweet, sickly and (even to a wine philistine like me) quite clearly a poor quality product. By contrast, English wine is now being hailed as some of the finest being produced in the world and the sparkling wine is being seen to consistently outstrip Champagne in international competitions.

I was reading an article this morning from a New Zealand news site with the headline ‘The ‘British’ wine made from imported grapes’. It took the view that there is widespread confusion between the two products, especially in the international market. I tend to agree but would go further and say that this confusion, as the popularity of English wine grows,  is likely to be extremely damaging.

British wine is made from imported grapes, or worse, a sort of grape syrup, which is then fermented in the UK, it is not made from the grapes that are grown in British vineyards.  The practice is legal and widespread in the £240m discount wine industry, and cheap wine brands have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Tesco, Asda and Lidl are among those selling ‘British’ wines made from cheap grapes grown and pressed abroad. They are then labeled as being a British product. I suppose, in reality, this process is no different to importing cotton and making a T-shirt in the UK so it is hard to call this labeling disingenuous, as some suggest. However, the result is that English wine is very likely to get tarred with the same brush as British wine in the minds of many.

So, in short, the English wine industry, in my opinion face a ticking time bomb of a PR problem here. My advice to the English wine industry would not be at attacking the ‘British’ wine makers, as some have taken to doing. But rather attempting to rebrand their own product to make it clearly more distinct. They should get together and as a collective invest in the future of thier industry.

– James

 

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