Jay Rayner warms to English sparkling

Guardian columnist Jay Rayner has changed his views on the British sparkling wine industry, after previously slamming the category for offering poor value for money.

(Photo: John Arandhara Blackwell)

The outspoken restaurant critic told the drinks business that the continuing diversification of the sparkling category, within the UK hospitality sector, had enabled English sparkling wine to find “a more comfortable niche.”

“It’s true that I’ve been very critical of English fizz in the past, but my views are changing,” said Rayner.

“I feel that the price points have become more reasonable, and that the quality has risen. Five years’ ago, being offered a glass of English fizz in a bar would have given me pause, but not today.”

Rayner also opined that by-the-glass offerings across the on-trade had improved “immeasurably” in recent times.

“The offering is so much more interesting,” he said. “Champagne, Cava and Prosecco have been joined by some really good value, alternative styles such as Cremant.”

Former Michelin chef and restauranteur Marco Pierre White has also been a staunch critic of English sparkling.

“English sparkling wine is ridiculously overpriced. I just can’t justify selling it at my restaurants, especially when the quality doesn’t rival Champagne,” said White.

In the past, Rayner has never been short of strong opinions about the UK’s food and drink industry.

In 2016, as reported by db, he slammed the “bollocks spouted by wine connoisseurs,” suggesting diners should ignore them and buy “the cheapest wine on the list.”

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