Revellers are reaching for English wine rather than French in the run up to Christmas, according to UK supermarket Waitrose

Statistics from Waitrose.com, the supermarket’s online service, indicate that English wine is beating not only Bordeaux – the traditional Christmas choice – but also California, Portugal, Alsace and Germany.

The company says sales of English wine have risen 120% over the same time last year, owing mainly to purchases of English sparkling wine which increased 360% in November alone.

English wine is moving beyond the local pub and being taken more seriously by merchants as well as wine critics.

Several brands including Balfour, Chapel Down, Nyetimber, Denbies and Duchy Originals – produced under the auspices of HRH Prince Charles – are being sold by supermarkets such as Booths, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Earlier this year, London merchants Bibendum launched two house brands – Primrose Hill Bacchus from the Lamberhurst Estate and Primrose Hill Rose from the Tenterden estate.

The UK has over 1,300 vineyards with 1,000 hectares under vine, and produced about 3.4m bottles in 2006.

Written by Maggie Rosen