In an age of austerity, at least we can raise a glass to British bubbly

The economy may be flat, but one aspect of British industry is bubbling – English sparkling wine. And today, the drive by the domestic wine industry to beat the great French champagne houses at a game they have long dominated takes a big step forward.

Trail of the unexpected: The Kent wine route

English Wine Week starts today, so to get a taste for it Sally Hawkins takes a vintage break in Kent

David Randall: If you want booming growth, you can't afford to be thin-skinned

It falls to the journalist to investigate many things: the inner whirrings of the world economy, the ebb and flow of political fortunes, and even the whys and wherefores of the Government's health policy. By the time you get to this end of the paper, however, these matters have been dealt with, and so it falls to me to tackle the issue that other writers have so adroitly avoided: The Great Exploding Watermelon Mystery.

Château Dorking: how a vineyard in Surrey created the world's best rosé

Rosé is a wine created out of sun-blasted vineyards in the south of France, Spain or Italy, best drunk ice cold on a warm Mediterranean night. It is not a wine normally associated with Dorking, Surrey, in the London commuter belt, where a stiff gin and tonic is normally the drink of choice.

Are natural wines any good?

Bottles free of pesticides, sugar and dozens of other additives are now quaffed in the best restaurants

The Timeline: Wine production

5000BC

Iran was the world's first major wine producer. Wine presses and amphora – large vase-like pottery wine flasks – with the preserved residue of tannin and tartrate chemicals, both found in wine, have been found on digs in the Hajji Firuz Tepe region of the country. Carbon dating suggests they are 7,000 years old.

Anthony Rose: 'Viognier is capable of making some of the most opulent and voluptuous dry white wines in the world'

If I mentioned Condrieu or Château Grillet, would you know the grape variety involved? Regular readers of the column will, no doubt, but my suspicion is that many of you will be shrugging your shoulders, maybe even wondering what or where on earth Condrieu or Château Grillet are?

Fox and Grapes, 9 Camp Road, Wimbledon Common, London

Underground, overground, hurrying to Wimbledon Common, here come the foodies. Their destination, a gastropub on the common's edge which recently reopened under new management. Clearly the Fox and Grapes isn't just any gastropub. You could call it an astro-pub, given the two Michelin stars held by co-owner Claude Bosi, the hugely talented chef-proprietor of Hibiscus.

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