English Grapes


Bacchus is considered by many to be England’s signature grape. Fresh, crisp and great for still English white wine, it’s in the top 5 of most widely planted grapes in the UK.

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Bacchus is a hybrid grape that was first grown in Germany over a hundred years ago. Bacchus is named after the Roman God, Bacchus who was primarily known as the god of agriculture and wine, but was also associated with fertility, drama, and revelry.  Bacchus is suited to cooler climates and has been grown in the UK since the 1970’s. Today it accounts for about 9% of English vineyard plantings.

What is English Bacchus?

Bacchus is widely regarded as the signature English still white wine grape and is made by more producers in England than any other still white grape varietal.  Powerhouse wineries such as Lyme Bay make thousands of bottles of English Bacchus which are available in supermarkets while micro wineries like Freedom of the Press produce small batches.  Bacchus is a versatile grape that grows across the UK and can produce quite a range of styles. 

What Does Bacchus Taste Like?

When you are next walking in the English countryside in late spring, breathe in deeply. You will get the scent of an English hedgerow: nettle, blackcurrant leaf and elderflower.  And this really is the aroma and flavour you will get from a glass of English Bacchus.   

Gavin Monery, an Australian winemaker who made award-winning English Bacchus during his time in the UK, once said to me that no other grape in the world expresses its environment so vividly as Bacchus.  So, although the Bacchus grape may originally be from Germany, these days it is very much considered a quintessentially English grape varietal.  

Bacchus wines can be quite steely and mineral, especially in colder vintages such as 2019.  Low in alcohol and high in acidity, the wine can taste crisp, dry and very mineral. This taste is typical of super fashionable wines grown in cooler climates like Austria’s Gruner Veltliner or Riesling from Germany.    

At the other end of the spectrum Bacchus wines can have almost tropical notes, especially in warmer vintages like 2020.  This is when the pear, gooseberry and cut grass flavours really shine through and why Bacchus is often referred to as “England’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc.” 

Is Bacchus a good wine?

Some producers, such as Chapel Down tend to use more oak when making Bacchus and this technique does prove popular with judges. Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Bacchus wins multiple awards and their 2019, won the Top Still category in the GB 2021 and 2022 Wine Awards.   

Can you age Bacchus?

When Bacchus first started getting attention back in the mid-teens, it was considered best drunk young. However, there are some 2011s around and they are tasting pretty good. But with many English wines there just isn’t enough history or volume for us to really know how well it will age and which styles will age better.  You are at the start of the journey. If you can afford to hold on to one, why not give it a go and come back to it in a few years.  



English food and wine pairing Bacchus and spicy chicken wings

English Bacchus

Food and Wine Pairing

Bacchus is fresh, floral and crisp so goes well with white meats, fish and salads. It and can also handle a bit of spice.

For classic seasonal British Delicious combinations try: 

Spring: English chickpea falafel and broad bean hummus served with a salad of seasonal leaves. 

Summer: A bowl of mussels with a hunk of warm sourdough and herb butter.  

Autumn: Homemade English sriracha chicken wings, corn on the cob and baked potato with a carrot slaw. 

Winter: Vineyard honey glazed roast pork, summer made cucumber relish and English black quinoa.