Ukvine invited Sommelier Sam to share her views on the thorny matter: English Sparkling Wine – The Great Name Debate

Bretagne? Trying too hard to sound like Champagne. Merret? Sounds like ‘merit’, too average. English Sparkling Wine? Phew what a mouthful. What are we to do? British Fizz is having its moment and we can’t even come up with a decent name.
In wines circles there’s been much gnashing of teeth and racking of brains on this topic because the competition Champagne, Prosecco, Cava all have a ‘name’. The theory is that by having a catchy moniker it gives the consumer a handle, something to grab on to, which makes that purchasing decision easier.
Let’s have a think about it. Prosecco has to be THE success story of sparkling wine in recent years. A while back, I asked one of my Italian wine contacts why he thought Prosecco was having such an incredible run and he was convinced it was the name. Prosecco, Prosecco . … so sexy, so Italian and so easy to say (take note Freixenet). I really can’t say I agree. OK it sounds nice but people don’t buy it because it makes them feel sexy and Italian, they buy it because it’s nice to drink and it’s dirt cheap.
However in my mind there isn’t any point having a name if you aren’t actually doing any promotion. What are we going to do with our name, even if we can come up with one? We don’t have a CIVC (Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne) to co-ordinate a big marketing push.

Marketing in-house

UK traditional method wine producers (UKTM … hey that’s not bad!) seem to be taking matters in to their own hands. Big players such as Nyetimber, Ridgeview and Chapel Down aren’t waiting for the story of English Sparkling Wine to write itself, they are employing marketing expertise in-house to promote their wines, shout about their trophies and more importantly build their brands. After all if Champagne has taught us anything it is surely that brand matters.
So, if we can come up with a generic name that catches on then great but in the absence of this the best producers of UKTM (I quite like it!) are doing a grand job of getting the word out and pushing the most important message of all – it’s not what you call it, it’s what is in the bottle that counts.

Sommelier Sam started as a wine drinker, then became a wine enthusiast, then a wine student and is now a wine buyer. She is studying for the WSET Diploma at Plumpton College.

You can find Sommelier Sam at