A BRAND new festival celebrating wine from across the region has been launched in Winchester.

Local connoisseurs Susie and Peter Richards hosted an evening of Hattingley fizz and canapés at a launch on Wednesday (July 23) to promote the forthcoming Winchester Wine Festival.

The three day event takes place at the Guildhall from Friday (November 21) to Sunday (November 23) in time with opening of the Christmas market and aims to encourage people to learn more about wine and perhaps buy a bottle or two for Christmas dinner.

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Mr and Mrs Richards (pictured above), who are regulars on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen with James Martin, hope the event will change people’s perceptions about wine being “snooty”.

The launch, which was held at the Paul Woodhouse suite at the Cathedral, drew in an array of people and not just the connoisseurs.

Mr Richards said: “It went really well and everyone had fun; that was the atmosphere we were looking for. Everyone really enjoyed the wine and it was such a nice evening.”

November’s event will have four sessions, each lasting around four hours, and tickets can be bought for £25.

There will be a 25 per cent discount for any early buyers.

“It’s not the cheapest event, granted, but its fantastic value for what you get,” he said. “There’ll be a free glass with the entry packet and there’ll be lots of food, cheeses and the like, and various master classes, as well as the wine.

“What we really want to do is push the point that it’s fun but it’s a great chance to buy wine and get good value products in time for Christmas.”

The wines will be colour-coded according to taste rather than by region or country to ensure visitors can enjoy a fuller range.

“This follows the taste system and is aimed to make wine more accessible,” Mr Richards added. “I think it’s the kind of thing that’s happening right across the wine world. It used to be quite stuffy before, a bit snooty, rather than trying to make wine more available, but we were really delighted to the reactions we had and we’re definitely going to be making more noise about it.”