RICHARD ESLING: Arundel Festival wine events return

Arundel Festival Wine Trail 2017
Arundel Festival Wine Trail 2017

The Arundel Festival is looming large on the horizon, starting Saturday, August 19, and running for a full ten days up until Bank Holiday Monday, August 28.

Last year it was awarded the accolade of Festival of the Year by Sussex Life and every year it attracts thousands of visitors from far and wide, with a great variety of events to be experienced.

2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the festival and promises to be better than ever.

This year sees the return for the third year running of a series of educational and fun wine events arranged by the Arundel Wine Society, now under the patronage of her Grace Georgina Duchess of Norfolk.

Having started originally with just three, the wine events go from strength to strength with this year seeing no less than seven events during the festival.

The whole ethos of the Arundel Wine Society, of which I am chairman, is based on the educational principle that the more you know about wine, the more you can appreciate it.

Emile Peynaud, emeritus professor of Oenology at Bordeaux University in the mid 20th century, wrote that knowledge of how to taste is the basis of drinking well.

“Tasting teaches us to master the use of our senses. Good wines favour sobriety whilst alcoholism is the result of drinking badly. Drink less, but be difficult with your choice.”

Wise words from a revered world expert. In 1980, he published a 235-page large format book, called Le gout du Vin (The Taste of Wine), which, even more than 30 years later, is still used as a reference work by Master of Wine students.

Four themed wine tastings form the Arundel Festival Wine Trail with each tasting being on a different day in a different venue around the town.

These tasting events include an illustrated presentation, followed by a tutored tasting of six wines which showcase the wine region or style of wine.

This year, the themes are Wines from the Dordogne Valley, Wines from Northern Italy, Sparkling wines made by the same method as Champagne but not champagne, and different grape varieties from New Zealand.

Last year saw a new wine event launched, which was the Arundel Restaurant Trail – four courses each in a different restaurant and each paired with a different glass of wine. This sold out very rapidly, and this year it sold out even quicker – within two weeks. Thus, a second night has been organised and that too sold out – within two days!

With the ever-increasing popularity and success of our home-grown wines made here in Sussex, a tour of some of the local vineyards will take place on Monday, August 21.

Participants will be able to visit four different vineyards and the whole day tour by minibus includes lunch and tea.

All will leave with an in-depth understanding of wine making and the fast-growing English wine industry.

We are lucky in the UK in that we have probably the most diverse range of wines available to taste and buy, from all around the globe, of any country in the world. Hence the growing interest in knowing more about the different wines and finding opportunities to gain more knowledge and experience of them.

The Arundel Festival Wine Events are designed to provide some of this knowledge and tasting experiences in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

But if you are interested, don’t delay. All events have limited numbers and are selling out fast.

Further details are available from

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit

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