Five Minutes with Susie Barrie
As lovers of wine, Hotel du Vin is delighted to be working with some of the UK’s most impressive wine experts as part of our partnership with the UK Wine Awards. The inaugural awards, which will see English and Welsh wine producers from around the country pitted against one another, have been designed to find the UK’s best wines across a number of categories – as well as crown a ‘Supreme Champion’ wine. So, ahead of the judging, which takes place at Hotel du Vin Wimbledon this May, we’ve sat down with each of our star judges – Oz Clarke, Hamish Anderson and Susie Barrie, to find out more about their love affair with wine.
Susie Barrie has spent almost a decade recommending viewers of BBC1’s flagship Saturday Kitchen on the perfect wines to pair with the show’s dishes, and is often recognised as the show’s most successful wine matcher. As well as her broadcast work (which also includes ITV, Food Network, Sky News and BBC Radio), she has written two books, contributed to many others, and often writes for the likes of The Daily Telegraph, Harpers and Sunday Times Travel.
What first interested you in wine?
I have Oz Clake to thank – or perhaps blame – for my career in wine. I was an actress working at the Oxford playhouse when I first met Oz. He was hosting a tasting in a local wine bar and his enthusiasm was so infectious I decided then and there to ditch acting and take up a career in wine. It was possibly the best decision I’ve ever made.
What is it about the English wine industry that interests you?
Everything. England is without doubt one of the most exciting and dynamic wine regions in the world right now, and the wines just keep getting better.
What do you think give English wines their distinct character?
English wines, especially sparkling wines, have a unique style of acidity that is tangy and beautifully refreshing. They also tend to have a scent and flavour reminiscent of an orchard garden in the afternoon sun - which is the perfect place to drink them!
How do the UK Wine Awards help the industry?
This is a contemporary competition, the likes of which the UK wine industry hasn’t seen before. It will be judged to rigorous international standards by a panel of leading experts and supported by a selection of highly regarded sponsors. The competition will reward and offer exposure to the very best the UK has to offer, giving producers an unrivalled platform from which to promote their wines.
What are your three best tips for picking an appropriate bottle?
- Know your preferred style of wine (e.g.; crisp and fruity, rich and full bodied, light and juicy)
- Decide how much you'd like to spend
- Don't be afraid to ask in store for advice and be willing to experiment!
If you had to choose one wine, one dish and one person to share it with, what, and with whom, would it be?
White truffle risotto, an old vintage champagne, & my husband - or if he's not available then Rob Brydon who I think would be a hoot to have dinner with.
*Photo credit: Tom Gold