What to call English sparkling wine? [poll]

The mere thought of “English wine” may sound like an oxymoron. But 400 vineyards now produce grapes for wine, much of it sparkling.

Should British bubbly be called anything other than “English sparkling wine”? Christian Seely, a partner in Coates & Seely, a producer of sparkling wine in Hampshire, recently told Decanter.com that calling it simply “English sparkling wine” is “like calling a Jaguar a Smart British Motor Car.” (Presumably, he doesn’t mean to imply that English sparkling wine has foreign ownership the way Jaguar is now owned by Tata Motors.)

Seely proposes the name “Britagne” and has emblazoned the term on the neck of Coates & Seely bottles. The preferred pronunciation, however, is not “Brit-ane” to rhyme with Champagne, but rather “brit-an-yuh,” as in Rule Britannia. It turns out that there’s not consensus on the term as another has been floated: Merret. Apparently Mr. Merret was a pioneer in the nascent industry. But the bookmakers are giving this term long odds despite the fact that it rhymes with claret.

What do you think? Since the use of the term Champagne is prohibited for bubblies made outside the Champagne region, other terms such as cava or Sekt have been popularized. Come to think of it, California sparkling wine doesn’t have a category name. Given our love of acronyms, such as driving your SUV in the HOV to the ATM, I’m surprised it hasn’t it hasn’t come to be abbreviated CSW. But anyway, back to Britagne–what do you think? I am pessimistic that any one term will work.

English sparkling wine as a category should be called...

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19 Responses to “What to call English sparkling wine? [poll]”

  1. Brit-an-yuh sounds way too much like Christopher Walken offering “Cham-pahn-yuh” in SNL’s “The Continental” skit. Makes me start to laugh just thinking about it.

  2. As sparkling wine has been made with great success all over the world without a ‘name’ it seems unnecessary for English wine to have one. However if we were to (and as we are now producing world class sparkling wine it doesn’t seem a bad idea from a marketing perspective), an English-centric name seems appropriate. Britagne is just a play on a French word giving the image of us imitating the French in some way, however Merret has English identity and is it not the identity which is really the issue here.

  3. Ha, Christine – “Champagne & Red Bull”!!


  4. How about Fermentomite? Fits right in with vetimite….

  5. Why not just ‘bubbly’?

    That is, actually, what they call it.

  6. Hmmmm, British sparkling wine…they must feel like Cinderella with brand new shoes.

  7. ‘Britagne’ is an excellent name, and ticks all the boxes… It clearly implies a region, and national pride in a product which is getting better and better, and simultaneously pays tribute to the superb French winemakers responsible for 250 years of fantastic bubbly: a heritage in which English fizz follows.

  8. In Italy we have the same problem: nobody seems to love the word “spumante” (the italian term for “sparkling wine”).
    So we’re looking for another name. No result so far.
    When you’ll find yours, let us know!

  9. […] suggested the term “Merret,” in honor of British wine pioneer Christopher Merret. Dr. Vino polls his readers to find out what everyone thinks. (My take? Labeling the category is a good idea — but the proposed names are pretty […]

  10. In the world of wine–even in the topsy-turvey world of Champagne–specificity of place is the signal of quality. There is an English/Welsh appellation system, involving the three-letter acronym “PSR” (Produced in Specific Region). They should dust it off and use it. “Champagne” is a place, not a brand. “Britagne” is a brand, not a place.

  11. Britagne is such an ugly word. I hope you don’t mind me pointing your readers to my blog where I have come up with the perfect name, Digby: http://bit.ly/kLS19K

  12. Must “Britain” obscure England in every sphere of life? Lets be English for once and proud of it.

    English Sparkling Wine is good for me. Straightforward, honest and English.

    OK with Merret too.

    “Britagne” sets itself up as an imitation of other sparkling wine. Pretentious and ugly.

  13. Dave – nice.

    Henry – yes, it’s ugly but…Digby? Funny that “Pippa” was thrown out there as you mention in your post.

  14. Call it Belcher and be damned, and it’s ENGLISH sparkling wine not Br*tish, which means absolutely fuck all to anyone now, except those not of England who claim the right to live in and profit from England.

  15. As Champagne is a region and not a brand, as another poster states, then why not add the word “bubbly” after the English wine region in which the grapes are grown? For example, “Kentish Bubbly” …

  16. Well the sparkling white wine produced in Cornwall is Cornish wine not English so there shouldn’t be a problem there.

  17. my dad suggests “Englspritz”

  18. Why don’t you call all English Champagne types


    A Superior Sparkling English

  19. The wine and sparkling – sector has already to much nominations for the same product. I think that the customers in Britain or all over europe don´t need to have a new nomination for british sparkling wine. Everybody understand what sparkling wine means.
    I don´t think that the british wineries needs a name for their sparkling wines, which is derivated from “Champagne”.


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