thermometerSunshine, not showers, is the forecast for the start of English Wine Week this Bank Holiday and Jubilee weekend. Which is good news for English winemakers and grape growers because the other 300 rainy days of the year make it just plain hard work getting grapes to ripen.

Luckily English winemakers needn't now hope against hope that their grapes will ripen fully in our several hundred hours of yearly sunshine as newer cross-bred grape varieties make it easier to produce a balanced and very drinkable end product.

red grapesRed grapes need more sun to ripen than white grapes, but even these can now be harvested at optimum levels of sweetness - as long as English grape growers choose not to grow varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot.

These warm country favourites need over a thousand hours of sunshine to ripen and so any UK vineyard owner seduced into planting these varieties would find the resulting under-ripe fruit only capable of making nasty, acidic wines no-one would rightly part cash for.

Dunkfelder, Dornfelder, Rondo, Regent, or a few other classily named grape varieties, are better choices for English vineyards. Their resulting wines, will more often than not, taste fruitily ripe.

Bookers English wineBlend the two red grape varieties of German Dornfelder and the Chinese-Austrian half-breed Rondo together and the result tastes like a blackcurranty Merlot with a dash of English elderberry. And we can expect more of the same fully-ripened sweet and fruity flavours to follow year on year.

What's On During English Wine Week

In-store tastings, food and wine matching events as well as English vineyard visitor events are some of the many things happening this week to celebrate English Wine Week (starting next Saturday on 2nd June and ending Sunday June 10th).

Check out the English Wine Week website to discover which vineyards in your area are open.

Related articles: English wine needs Saint George

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on

man on mobile‘Mayday! Mayday!’ is the cry of this week’s supermarket shopper. No, they haven’t confused the date but are crying out in distress hunting for wine bargains. Because this pre Jubilee, Father’s Day and Wimbledon time slot has stifled the marketing men’s natural instincts to peg wine offers to national celebrations, outside temperatures or stereotypical drinking styles. But look closely within the disparate, and desperate, lot of supermarket wine offers and the odd tasty bargain can be found.

wine rack fullWhen was the last time you didn't have to pay for your wine? Some ago I'll bet. Wine lovers often get given bottles of wine as presents but as these are usually something top-notch and expensive it doesn’t make financial sense to replace them using your own money. But there is a way of boosting the wine rack contents for free - entering competitions with wine prizes.

soup in a cauldronIt’s going to be a warmish and damp Bank Holiday weekend according to The Met Office. But don’t let the dampness and lack of sun deter you from enjoying a picnic - a picnic with a difference that is. Instead of sipping light whites and rosés with your lettuce-filled sandwiches, why not get in a couple of cockle-warming reds and hearty whites for your May Day soup and sarnies.