Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
The Big English & Welsh Wine Festival to kick off English Wine Week 2022
The Big English and Welsh Wine Festival launches in Cheltenham for English Wine Week 2022 with over 20 producers and 75 still and sparkling wines to taste.
The Big English & Welsh Wine Festival is taking place on Saturday 18th June, hailing the start of English Wine Week which runs from 18th-26th June. This event promises to be one of the biggest and best of its kind.
Housed in the stunning St Philip & St James’s Church Cheltenham, affectionately known as Pip & Jim’s, the festival will see over 20 English and Welsh wine producers in attendance.
Some of the award-winning wine estates taking part include: Gusbourne, Chapel Down, Woodchester Valley Vineyard and Lyme Bay Winery. More names are due to be announced in the lead up to the event.
Sugar means more than sweetness
A few things have changed since the days of using bare feet to press grapes, but you might be surprised to learn that many traditional winemaking methods remain the same.
Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethyl-alcohol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process and producing the alcohol content of the wine.
Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeast are major factors in different styles of wine. When the yeast converts all naturally occurring sugar it produces a dry wine, but when there is residual sugar left after fermentation, the wine will be sweeter. Grapes that are overripened have higher levels of fructose, which is significantly sweeter than glucose and is a key component in sweeter dessert wines.
In most wines there will be very little sucrose as it does not appear naturally in grapes. Added sucrose is typically consumed during fermentation. The naturally occurring sugar in grapes comes from photosynthesis during the warm, sunny mornings of the growing season. This is why the South of England in particular is a successful wine production region. Although granulated sugar or liquid sugar can be added in the event of a poor summer, when less sunshine results in lower natural fructose in the grapes, this would simply ensure the consistency of the alcohol content and is not used to generate a sweeter flavour.
In sparkling wines, an amount of liqueur d’expedition – sucrose dissolved in still wine – is added after second fermentation. This increases the carbon dioxide in the bottle, which in turn creates pressure and will give the pop and fizz sounds we associate with a celebration!
English sparkling wines have experienced a surge in popularity, with those such as the Chapel Down Rosé Brut being famously served at William and Kate’s wedding. The sparkling wines of the South-East of England have flourished due to the similarity to the soil and temperature conditions of the Champagne region. The warm South-East sun perfects the sweetness of the grapes and the chalk soil that creates the White Cliffs of Dover is the very same ancient piece of chalk that serves the Champagne houses across the Channel.
Time to celebrate wines from closer to home
Following the UK’s COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel restrictions, many have embarked on ‘staycations’ rather than usual trips abroad, enjoying the beauty and diversity that the UK has to offer. From this many have been introduced to our fantastic homegrown food and wine. This festival highlights the absolute best of different and exciting wines that are grown and produced potentially as close as next door.
The festival is run by Cheltenham’s Tivoli Wines who recently unveiled their sister brand Vine & Orchard Adventures. Primarily focusing on unique drinks experience tours around the Cotswolds and Three Counties, they are also hosting larger events that both highlight and support the incredible producers we have here in the UK, with this wine festival being their first event at this scale. Their focus is on ‘Quality, Value and Education’ making sure that every customer gets the most out of their personal wine experience.