Wine Festival Winchester: big flavour with unsubtle notes of socialising and the heady whiff of fun.
I’m at the Winchester home of BBC Saturday Kitchen wine experts Susie Barrie and Peter Richards, who usher me into their super stylish kitchen.
Both hold the prestigious Master of Wine title, making them part of a fairly rare species of experts from across the world. They are also half of the four-strong team behind Winchester’s Wine Festival, which is now in its third year and takes place at Guildhall.
“The biggest surprise has been how much people love stickers!” says Peter. “They were introduced as an element of fun and a way of giving people a steer through the festival wines. The colour-coded system is based around six styles, with quirky names such as Fresh and Racy, Feeling Fruity and Big Smoothie, and acts as an ice-breaker, route map and invitation to taste all in one.”
Susie continues, “The festival is an ideal place to introduce people to wine appreciation and tasting. We have spent our careers helping people discover new wines and it’s great to be able to do that in our home city too.”
Each week for Saturday Kitchen, Susie and Peter recreate the TV show’s two feature recipes from their own kitchen and are then sent out to source complementary wines.
“The wine we choose is not necessary very expensive, but that’s the thrill of a find,” says Peter. “We recently came across a Toscana Rosso for £4.50 which was genuinely great.”
Their kitchen is a great space, with a full-height wine fridge (of course), a cocktail cupboard and bar-style rack of hanging wine goblets.
Susie says, “It’s definitely my favourite part of the house. We designed it with The Myers Touch in Kings Worthy and the inspiration was a picture of a kitchen in the sitting room of a Danish house. I like that mid-century Danish look and I wanted to mix wood, stainless steel and lots of white and grey. It’s a great space for entertaining too, and we do a lot of that.”
Peter adds, “The concept of a perfect wine is a very personal one. It’s not always just about quality, either. It’s often a wine that simply enhances the place you’re in.”
Wine Festival Winchester runs from 24 to 25 November at Guildhall. www.thewinefestival.co.uk