Home News > March 2020 > English white wines were as light on their feet as prima ballerinas, but packed a zesty punch

As we launch into the third day of the Sommelier Wine Awards judging, our panel has really been put to the test with a very challenging category – house wines!

To a wine snob, the wines that linger at the top of a wine list are often overlooked, but they are certainly not to be scoffed at, as our judges found out today. It is no mean feat making a decent wine for a low price point. In past years at SWA, house rosés have been considered one of the poorer categories in the competition, but today’s rosés proved the doubters wrong. It became clear that winemakers are getting to grips with making good rosé at a low price point.

House whites were also making their mark today. Head of Judging, Christine Parkinson, commented: “today’s house whites proved that it is possible to make a decent bottle of wine, which can be served in a restaurant or bar, for under £6”. Competition Chairman, Chris Losh observed: “it is harder to make decent house wines than it used to be, and you have to look pretty hard for the good ones”. Which is exactly what makes the Sommelier Wine Awards such a valuable competition for the trade. With around 80 house wines tasted today, our judges managed to narrow them down to the top 20 – you are welcome!

English white wines were also praised today for their quintessential “Englishness”. Last year English sparkling wines took the limelight, but today it was their still counterparts that left our judges satisfied. Their aromatic intensity and bright acidity paired perfectly with their light-bodied crispness, leaving Christine coining the analogy that they were “ballerinas shining bright on a stage full of tap dancers; wonderfully light on their feet”.

The day ended on a sweet note with fortified wines, often one of the most interesting categories for our judges. The fortified wines - Madeira, Vermouth, Vin Santo - rarely disappoint, but this year they stood out even more. The room was filled with aromas of dried fruits, spices and nuts, and the personality of the wines was bursting out of their bottles.