5 Reasons I’m looking forward to Wine Festival Winchester

Winchester and Wine…two things I love! So, naturally I am very much looking forward to Wine Festival Winchester in a few weeks time and here are just a few of the reasons why…

The brilliant ‘Follow Your Taste’ system

Follow Your Taste at Wine Festival Winchester

Trying to articulate which wines you like isn’t always easy, so Wine Festival Winchester has something a little different to assist with this. In order to help you find wines you like at the festival, organisers Susie and Peter have devised a colour-coded system called ‘Follow Your Taste’. Wine is broken down into six flavour styles and bottles at the event will have coloured neck tags to indicate their style.

English Sparkling Wine

wine

I think it’s just fantastic to have our very own wine producers creating bubbly that tastes as good, if not better than Champagne. It’s even better that so many great producers are local to the area too. I’m delighted to see that Hattingley Valley, Hambledon Vineyard and Cottonworth are all exhibiting, along with many others. I can’t wait to stock up!

Listening and Learning

I don’t claim to know an awful lot about wine but I do love learning about it and hearing from passionate producers, tasters and sommeliers. Last year I heard some great stories about the production process, how certain wines got their names and even the inspiration for different wine labels.

Trying New Things

wine fest 2

Image credit: Catherine Skinner Photography

The wine festival is great place to step outside of your usual wine comfort zone and try something different. In a restaurant you so often just stick with what you know or make a snap decision when buying wines from a shop. How often do you get the chance to really think about different wines and trying something you wouldn’t usually go for? The festival is the perfect place for this.

Foodie Favourites

Chococo at Wine Festival Wincester

Image credit: Catherine Skinner Photography

Cheese and chatting with the team from Chesil Rectory was lovely last year and I’m happy to see that they will be exhibiting again. Chocolate enthusiasts will be delighted to see Chococo has a stand too. It’s also great to see that some of my farmers market favourites like Devese Farm Animals will be there too. So there’s plenty of foodie experiences to discover as well as wine ones.

These five choices are a mere snapshot of the reasons why Wine Festival Winchester is going to be a fabulous event – I plan to write more about the festival as we get closer to the date (27th – 29th November). Until then, you can find out more at www.thewinefestival.co.uk.

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A week of Cretan cuisine

It’s been a month now since I boarded an incredibly early easyJet flight and landed in beautiful sunny Crete, Greece’s biggest island. It was wonderfully hot, relaxed and scenic…a truly blissful week! Naturally, I was also very excited to immerse myself in Crete’s famous cuisine and resolved to eat as many local dishes and delicacies as possible. I certainly did, I came back about half a stone heavier, but that’s what holidays are all about for me, relaxing with amazing food and wine and getting to wear all the (loose) summery dresses that are never practical in the UK.

crete

Posing in one of my many loose fitting summer dresses!

We stayed in the gorgeous Minos Beach Hotel, found for us by the lovely people at Winchester’s Independent Holiday Shop. The hotel consisted of several traditional-looking white bungalows, dotted around the lush grounds, which were also filled with many different, interesting artworks. And, this is really important….THERE WAS A KETTLE IN THE ROOM! You never see that in European hotels, to the point where I pack my own travel kettle these days (the need for tea grows stronger the older you get!). So I was delighted with there being a kettle and wide variety of teas to choose from every day (it’s the simple things!). The hotel was situated in a perfect location, right by the sea and a lovely leisurely stroll from the nearby town of Agios Nikolaos.

Minos beach art hotel Crete

Obligatory sun lounger view shot – it does show the hotel’s proximity to the ocean though!

Minos beach art hotel Crete

One more of the hotel’s location….

Agios Nikolaos Crete

The nearby town of Agios Nikolaos

I’m a huge fan of swimming, especially in the sea and it was so warm! I swam most mornings before breakfast. Even when it was tough to get out of bed, I thought of how rare the opportunity for a morning swim in such beautiful water was, and it got me out there!

Crete

I think I’d suit being a mermaid!

Crete, Agios Nikolaos

My swimming companions (less like mermaids)

On to the food! I tucked into fresh Cretan yoghurt with honey, nuts and seeds every morning at breakfast which was delicious and tasted so much better than Greek Yoghurt at home (and definitely better than the diet ‘Greek Style’ Yoghurt I tend to buy!). I also enjoyed halloumi, Greek salad and feta at every possible opportunity! And of course, baklava for dessert too.

baklava crete

Just some of the delicious baklava I consumed!

We did pay a special visit to one restaurant called Migomis, famous for its food and its stunning views over the marina.

Migomis Restaurant Crete

The views from Migomis Restaurant

Migomis Restaurant Crete

Another from Migomis Restaurant

The food was equally as fabulous. My starter of Migomis House Salad was so full of flavour, possibly the best salad I’ve eaten (and I eat a lot of salad!)…

Migomis restaurant Crete

House Salad

There was plenty of fish and seafood on the menu too, here are two further courses…

Migomis Restaurant Crete Seafood Risottio

Seafood Risotto at Migomis Restaurant

Linguine with smoked salmon, wild mushrooms and roe

Linguine with smoked salmon, wild mushrooms and roe

I can also highly recommend a restaurant called Piato, where we shared a starter of mixed local specialities and enjoyed the best wine of the whole trip.

Every meal also featured a complementary glass of Raki to finish with, which is a kind of Cretan brandy, strong stuff but we all certainly got into it! Of course there were cocktails (our hotel bartender made some great cocktails) and even a Shisha bar visit or two…

Holiday fun times!

Holiday fun times!

After a crazy busy September at work, it all seems much longer than a month ago now, a distant but happy memory! What is clear in my mind though, is what a wonderful place Crete was, the weather, the people, the food and the wine were all amazing – I’d highly recommend it!