Reasons to love South Africa

World Cup 2010! It started over the weekend and is being hosted in a world wine capital – South Africa.

My husband and I got to see the stadium being built in 2008 when we were in Cape Town on our honeymoon. Though we can't make it this year to watch the games, it was still pretty cool.

While down there two years ago, we drank a LOT of South Africa wine. South Africa has been making wine for centuries – from the time the Dutch settled it in the 1600s, there have been vineyards planted for winemaking. Apparently, the colonial governors of the time really liked their wine. Then the French Huguenots arrived and lent their wine making knowledge and the industry flourished.

While wine has been made there for quite some time, it's only been in our backyard for a couple of decades. The US did not allow any South African products into the states until 1990, when apartheid was abolished and Nelson Mandela set free. Since then, South Africa has grown in both its wine presence and its wine quality.

Here's what I love.

Chenin Blanc – this is a grape South Africa does VERY well. It's dry, crisp, mineral-driven, tropical, delicious… it sometimes reminds me of Sauvignon Blanc, but with a bigger tropical kick. It's the perfect wine to drink if you love a good, crisp, refreshing white, and the values are fantastic – most of these bottles come in well under $15. My favorites include Mulderbosch, Kanu and Indaba.

Pinotage – a bit of a polarizing grape, Pinotage is finally coming into its own in quality. Some people can't stand it, and when you drink a bottle that reminds you of bubble gum and burnt rubber, you'll understand why… But a good Pinotage delivers the positive aspects of both parents grapes – the bright red fruits of Pinot Noir and the structural undertone of Cinsault. Plus the smoky-meaty characteristic of South Africa… yes, Pinotage is definitely its own varietal. Favorites include Kanonkop and Southern Right.

Shiraz- They call it Shiraz and Syrah around these parts. Either way, it's making fantastic wine. From value styles (like Indaba) to more boutique and expensive versions (think Mulderbosch), to blends of all kinds, this grape is starting to show its stuff.

Watch our video below to find out more!

Cheers!


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5 Responses to Reasons to love South Africa

  1. Patrick says:

    Nice article….I’ve never heard of Pinotage. I’ll have to try it.

  2. JC Campione says:

    Thanks for the video and the info. I don’t drink South African wines much only because I don’t think about them often. I’ll have to make a point of it.

  3. steve says:

    You couldn’t have picked three more appropriate wines to showcase the value that South Africa has to offer today. I was turned on to S. African wines a few years back and because of the diversity and value I rarely feel the need to drink any other wines.

  4. George says:

    Thanks for the tips. We are headed to South Africa for the World Cup and we LOVE wine. BUT both of these people are "tasting the wine incorrectly and Pinotage is horrible!

  5. Gwendolyn says:

    Steve – so true – you could really drink such a diverse (and fantastically priced) line up of wines every night just by sticking to South Africa.

    George – you are funny! As I mentioned in the text here, Pinotage is polarizing… some love it, some hate it. I have had PLENTY that fall into the latter category, but I do encourage you to give it another try when you visit! They are making better stuff nowadays. Maybe just order a taste by the glass rather than a bottle, just in case you get one of the duds! Have a great time! Jealous!