This weekend’s foodie festival wasn’t all about food.  There were plenty of libations to keep even the thirstiest satisfied.  Besides the drinks master classes and without even mentioning the Casillero del Diablo wine stand I counted, three separate coffee stands, as well as milkshake, smoothies, juices of varying ingredients from fruit and vegetable to herbal, organic milk products, spiced hot chocolate, a range of teas, cider, water, beers, Oxfordshire Ales, sangria, rum, three further wine stands, a bubbly import stand, ginseng spirit and gin. By the time I got to men serving Mojitos I had lost count and decided maybe I should just stick with the master classes.


I ventured into the Casillero del Diablo tasting and was pleasantly surprised by their honesty. We started with a 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine made using the tank method instead of bottle fermentation. Now I have to admit I am a bit of a snob when it comes to sparkling. I don’t necessarily need Champagne, but I do prefer traditional method.  (I once tried an Australian sparkling, and promise never to make that mistake again. The sweet, spicy red bubbly would have been as easily achieved by mixing mulled wine with lemonade instead of being created in a winery.)  Hence, why I was a bit sceptical when the South American sparkling was put before me.

The refreshing bit was that Lee Jones, didn’t even attempt to compare it to Champagne. He described the tank method as giving the wine a clean, zesty flavour with out getting distracted by the biscuit notes. (I actually like biscuit notes.)  He said it was a “welcoming wine” with light flavour that doesn’t need food, “perfect to bring to a party, or to welcome guests to dinner, but it wasn’t a celebratory wine.” I agree on all statements.  I disagree with his “inexpensive” description at £10 and prefer to add “moderately” before the inexpensive adjective.

One theme I was happy to see repeated throughout the Foodies Festival was the temperature at which to serve red wine, between 14-18 degrees Celsius.

It was noted by every presenter that the rules about room temperature reds were created during the Victorian times, before central heating.

Wine expert Charles Metcalfe, went on to describe the unpleasant effects of current day room temperature (20 degrees or warmer) on red wine. “All you end up tasting is the alcohol.  You lose those nice subtle notes and flavours that make wine worth drinking.  It should be cool, I’m not saying freeze the bejeezus out of it.”

Lee Jones added,  “Before you serve wine at your next dinner party, stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes are put it over ice.” Of course he meant the bottle not the wine.


Watch the video of Susy Atkins from the Foodies Festival in Oxfordshire.


Wine events in the near future