IT was a weekend of sparkling sweetness, robust cabernets and sassy shirazes when the first Winchester Wine Festival was unveiled.

While other parts of the city were awash with Christmas shoppers, a select few opted for the inviting warmth – as well as the alcohol - at the Guildhall.

Marking the start of the Christmas market, local connoisseurs Susie Barrie and Peter Richards – stars of BBC1's Saturday Kitchen and the world’s youngest married master vintners – helped to celebrate a whole host of different wines as well as local food produce.

In a bid to ensure people tried the wide variety, wines were colour-coded according to flavour and labelled at the stalls. Fresh whites were labelled “like it fresh and racy?” while full-bodied reds were “are you a big smoothie?”

Then there were the more risqué variety of sparkling wines – “Let’s get fizzical!”

Local suppliers The Naked Grape and Wine Utopia showcased bruts, ports and Rieslings, while Lower Wield producers Hattingley Valley used the opportunity to display some of their award-winning wines.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Michelle Merry, Laura Martin, Denise Brimson and Valerie Madec enjoy the festival

Mr Richards and his wife have not long completed the Medoc Marathon in Bordeaux to raise money for their friend Michael Cox – a Ropley-based master vintner who died from cancer last year aged 62.

“Wine should be about fun and that’s what the marathon was about for me,” Mr Richards said. “Apart from being a bit painful!

“The festival has been really positive,” he added. “They are saying ‘we can’t believe it hasn’t existed before, when is it happening next year?’. We feel really grateful that people have supported it and hopefully it will just grow from here.”

The exhibition included wine from the far reaches of the earth, including the lesser known wine-producer Montenegro, as well as wine that was made underwater.

Mr Richards said: “We wanted it to be about exhibitors and there are so many weird and wonderful and delicious things here and it’s about helping people experiment.”