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The Wines of South Africa

The Wines of South Africa

What you didn't know about the renaissance of South African wines

The discovery of wine is one of the most compelling aspects of this business, and in fact of the whole wine enthusiast culture. The fact that there is always something new to learn, whether it be a wine, grape, region, or vineyard, means that one never actually arrives in the world of wine; we are all on some long, infinite journey.

As is often the case with these sorts of things, there is a measure of welcome reinvention. Bellbottoms come back into style — Ok, not all of these developments are welcome — but we do tend to cycle through things. Take South Africa for example, one of the world's historic wine growing regions, and certainly one with the finest pedigree; when was the last time you tried South African wine?

Don't feel bad if it's been a long time, that is hardly unusual, and during our recent Snooth PVA Wine Writer's Seminar series we took some measure to help to reintroduce the fine, exciting and dynamic wines of this historic region to a select group of some of our most eloquent wine influences. These are their stories, a fresh look at the renaissance of South African wines.

Click here to learn more about the wines from South Africa.

Upgrade Your Barbecue: The South African Braai

It’s not just about what you braai, it’s about how you braai, when you braai, where you braai and with whom you braai.

It’s a social event that gathers people around a fire to watch, smell and share a meal. It’s a place to eat, drink and tell stories for hours.

A braai often includes many different types of meat prepared over an open wood fire. Chops, steaks, loins, poultry, boerewors (sausages) and sosaties (skewers) are staples, while along the coast seafood plays a prominent role, from boiled crayfish (spiny lobsters) to whole-grilled or smoked fish, particularly snoek, an oily, cold-water fish found around the Cape of Good Hope.

And don’t forget the wine. South Africa’s wide variety of wines mixes and matches perfectly with the various dishes.

To share the secrets of a proper braai, we asked Reuben Riffel, a celebrity chef in South Africa, Winemaker Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof Winery in Franschhoek, and some of their vintner buddies from across the Cape Winelands to show us how it’s done.

Photos by Maree Louw / Food Styling by Abigail Donnelly

5 recipes (with videos) from South Africa’s celebrity chefs

With restaurants closed and fast food deliveries suspended, you&rsquore probably been cooking a lot more than usual. If you&rsquore running out of ideas or want to change things up, watch as five of South Africa&rsquos most well-known chefs share their favourite recipes - from haddock mac and cheese to chocolate fondant.

Roberts is an award-winning chef and founding owner of both The Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club. In this video tutorial, he talks you through a fresh take on a Nicoise salad, with the tuna prepared in a barigoule. It&rsquos a classic French cooking technique that is simple but bound to impress. He serves it with toasted bread and a smoked fish parfait: it&rsquos a healthy, flavourful weekend lunch. The recipe is simple but relatively involved, so it&rsquos great if you&rsquore looking for a little bit of a challenge and distraction.

Mtongana is an award-winning freelance food writer, celebrity chef and food judge on Chopped South Africa. She&rsquoll show you how to prepare a succulent, meat-falling-off-the-bone roast lamb, infused with classic flavours of mint and garlic. She&rsquoll also guide you through making a tasty gravy and side dishes like stuffed butternut and chakalaka. It&rsquos a simple recipe and the oven does most of the work, so it&rsquos great if you don&rsquot want to spend all of Sunday morning in the kitchen.

The slightly colder weather has us all craving comfort food, and David Higgs has a recipe to take a homely classic to new levels of flavour. The restaurateur, award-winning chef and cookbook author put up a video tutorial on Instagram, in which he adds a bit of zest to everyone&rsquos favourite dish, the good old mac and cheese. Learn how to poach haddock, make a perfect creamy white sauce, and add a sprinkle of blue cheese for extra flavour. It&rsquos quick and easy, and the kids will love it.

Lots of little tips. So pay attention. .

A post shared by David Higgs (@davidhiggschef) on Apr 6, 2020 at 4:54am PDT

You probably know international celebrity chef Lorna from Celebrity Masterchef SA and Top Chef SA Host. She&rsquos also the author of the cookbook &ldquoCelebrate&rdquo. This meal is ideal if you want to prepare something in a hurry (perfect for those days when you want something delicious but don&rsquot want to spend hours in the kitchen). It doesn't require too many ingredients either: the flavour comes from simple elements like peppers, mushrooms, beef stroganoff dry cook-in-sauce, and crushed chilies for a bit of bite.

You may have seen Basson as a judge on Ultimate Braai Master. He was also named Eat Out&rsquos San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna Chef of the Year 2019. He will demonstrate that this dish of chocolatey goodness is easy enough to whip together while holding a toddler. He&rsquos been using this recipe for 20 years, and has finally shared it with the good people of Instagram Obviously, no meal is complete without dessert, and this one is great for special occasions. If you&rsquore planning a lockdown date, anniversary dinner, or other special celebration, this is a must-try.

Many of these recipes use simple staple ingredients, a lot of which you likely already have in your cupboard. You may, however, need to stock up on fresh fish, meat, vegetables, dairy products, eggs, and chocolate. Luckily for you, you can get most of the ingredients you need delivered to your door. Check out our list of places in Cape Town that are delivering groceries and supplies during lockdown.

The situation is ever-changing and our team is committed to bringing you all the latest updates on COVID-19 in Cape Town. Stay up to date with what the lockdown means for you and check out our daily lockdown diaries. Find out which public facilities are closed and get notified when they reopen. Read about the governmental restrictions on liquor sales. Find out how you can support small businesses during these challenging times.

You might have cancelled many plans, but there&rsquos still plenty to do to keep yourself entertained this weekend. Use this social distancing period to work on your cooking skills with our homely, classic Cape Town recipes. If you're a parent, try one of the many things to do with kids while in lockdown. Celebrate local female talent for a heartwarming cause with The Venus Project. Cook along with top Cape Town chefs and UCOOK&rsquos for Restaurants.

Match of the week

I actually experienced so many great wine and food matches last week in South Africa - some accidental, some intended - that it would be invidious to pick out just one as my match of the week so here are a dozen that really stood out for me. (See also my match of the week last week of Semillon and seafood)

As you can see from some of the menu descriptions South African cuisine can be quite complex, full of bold flavours that can make wine matching quite unpredictable so I wouldn&rsquot necessarily extrapolate from that to say that a specific combination would always work. For a more practical reference consult the list of wine varietals, styles and recommended wine pairings I&rsquoll be posting later this week.

Salmon tartare with sesame-crusted warm oyster, chilled potato, leek cream, ginger soy dressing with the 2008 Chamonix Sauvignon Blanc
Fish tartares are flavour of the month at the moment in South Africa and Sauvignon Blanc, particularly crisp mineral Sauvignons like this Chamonix suit them a treat. This was a great combination I had at Reuben&rsquos in Franschhoek. I also had a similar ceviche of seabream with a more foreward Fishhoek Sauvignon Blanc with Bruce Jack at his Flagstone winery which shows the a more zesty, citrussy style works well too.

Seared scallops, bacon foam and corn puree with Ken Forrester 2008 FMC Chenin Blanc
You might well think this umami-rich dish from Terroir at Kleine Zalze would be a perfect match for Chardonnay - and it would - but it was simply stunning with Ken Forrester&rsquos voluptuous signature Chenin Blanc

Prawn risotto with Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2009
At the same meal I had a light seafood risotto with the Raats Family Original (unoaked) Chenin Blanc which provided a lovely contrasting note of crisp, mineral freshness - working, when I thought about it later - in much the same way as an Italian white.

Smoked duck with chicory and fig salad with Flagstone Writer's Block pinotage
Like many I have my reservations about Pinotage but this is a great example of what the grape can deliver from Bruce Jack of Flagstone, inspirationally paired by chef Pete Goffe-Wood with spicy home-smoked duck breast and figs, a combination that played on Pinotage&rsquos own mocha notes

Spring roll with Bobotie and Creation 2008 Syrah Grenache
One of a number of clever canap pairings designed by Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines to go with their range. Bobotie is a traditional South African dish of curried mince, usually with some sultanas or raisins and the wine was in the fresh, peppery Rhone style rather than a blockbuster Shiraz. (It was also very good with shavings of Biltong which accentuated its savoury, gamey notes.)

Springbok loin and pistachio dusted ostrich liver, parsnip and coffee puree, fig and ash baked celeriac with Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2006
I doubt any of you would be able to replicate this complex dish from chef David Higgs at Rust en Vrede restaurant (I certainly couldn&rsquot) but the one element it needed to complement it was a touch of sweetness which it got in spades from Rust en Vrede&rsquos own full bodied shiraz. (Note though that this was 4 years old. I suspect a newly released shiraz - rather than the more subtle Syrah style would have been overpowering

Grilled quail, grapes, mascarpone, beetroot-cumin puree, couscous with herbs, mustard-hanepoot rosemary jus with Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2007
There&rsquos so much good Syrah/Shiraz in the Cape right now one's spoilt for choice but I loved this combination of spicy quail and a big savoury Rhone-style Syrah from the irrepressible Mark Kent. (Again at Reuben&rsquos)

Moroccan style lamb with Ras el Hanout with Raats Cabernet Franc 2007
I wasn&rsquot intending to mention any winemaker more than once but this combination of fresh-tasting but powerful Cabernet Franc from Bruwer Raats and Moroccan-style lamb at Terroir was surprisingly successful. (I&rsquod have been thinking more in terms of Syrah)

Peppered Chalmar rump, veal short rib ragout and caramelised pearl onion with La Riche 2005 Cabernet Reserve
One of the impressions I took away from this trip is how good South African Cabernet is now and this velvety, elegant La Riche one was just sensational with a very good dish of seared beef and braised veal at the recently opened Jordan restaurant (better than Syrah, I suspect, the recommended pairing. With pepper in the dish you don&rsquot really need pepper in the wine - the Cab provided a lovely sweet contrast.)

Caramelised grenadilla (passionfruit) tart with crushed hazelnut praline with Jordan&rsquos Mellifera
Again from George Jardine at Jordan, a knockout combination of just-warm, quivering passionfruit tart with a late harvest wine made from Rhine Riesling. The hazelnut praline also added a lovely nutty note to the pairing, preventing it from being oversweet.

Ken Forrester Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2007 with white cheddar and spiced apricot compote
Cheese is often accompanied by fruit or fruit compotes in South Africa so sweet wines are often a better bet than red - even with cheeses that aren&rsquot blue as this unexpected combination at Terroir proved. (The Chenin was very light and fresh, not oversweet) The apricot compote - spiced, I think, with cardamom - was so delicious I&rsquom going to have to try and get the recipe

2008 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay and cheddar-style cheese.
South Africa still has a way to go before it makes great cheeses but its presentation and use of them is second to none as you can see from this platter served at the Creation winery restaurant. Anthony Hamilton-Russell, who was at the tasting, told me that hard cheeses like cheddar (and, more particularly parmesan) were good with his sumptuously elegant Chardonnay and he was dead right. It worked a treat with the medium-bodied cheddar on this platter.

I visited South Africa as a guest of Wines of South Africa and its producers.

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Traditional South African Food and Recipes to Make Them

With South Africa celebrating Heritage Day this month, it’s no wonder we’re feeling a little nostalgic about all the great local dishes we have in the country. And, considering what a melting pot our rainbow nation is, it is to be expected that traditional South African food is varied and different. In honour of what makes South Africa great, here are some recipes for our favourite traditional South African food as well as recipes for you to master at home.

Traditional South African Food


Don’t be calling this a doughnut, because it’s so much more than that. This traditional fried dough can be stuffed with nearly anything – sweet or savoury – but there’s something about the plain dough tossed in a cinnamon syrup that sets our hearts racing.


Possibly one of the more dividing traditional South African food out there, but when a skilpaadjie – calf’s liver wrapped in caul fat – is made properly, there’s nothing quite like it.


We’re almost certain there isn’t a more comforting local dessert out there. Softly spiced vermicelli noodles and almonds come together to form what only can be described as a hug in a bowl. Our version takes all the love of a traditional boeber and churns it into ice cream.

The Gatsby

Possibly the furthest thing from the sophisticated literature character of the same name, a Gatsby is the best thing when you’re starving, drunk, hungover… well, you get the idea. You can pretty much sandwich anything with chips and call it a Gatsby, but we’re particularly fond of this peri-peri-inspired version. Read about the where to get the best gatsby in Cape Town right here.


Sure, curried mince topped with a savoury custard doesn’t really sound that appealing but a bobotie is one of those dishes where you just have to let it do the talking. All you really need is blob of Mrs Balls chutney and you’re A-for-away.

Try this Classic and Easy Bobotie recipe, or if you looking for a LCHF version try these Bobotie Pancakes.

Peppermint Crisp Tart

Almost needs no introduction, but we’re going to give it the proper respect it deserves. If your family thinks peppermint crisp tart is a little too lowbrow, this gussied-up cake version will win them back over. If you’re banting don’t be left out with our minty crisp snack.

Bunny Chow

If you’re from Durbs, bunny chow is almost a religious entity. And seriously, who wouldn’t worship perfectly spiced chicken curry stuffed into a squishy bread roll?


‘Umgquasho’ is a traditional dish of the Nguni culture. Served in this recipe with Chakalaka, a traditional spicy vegetable relish. Even more delicious with Karoo lamb chops done on the braai.


If ever there was a fish to sum up traditional South African food, it’s snoek. While highly versatile and easy to cook, we love it smoked and folded into a delicious chunky pate. Another favourite way to prepare this that just speaks to our South African souls, is whole snoek braaied on the coals with apricot jam basting.

Try this recipe for Smoorsnoek or if you’re looking to feed a crowd this classic Cape Malay Braaied Whole Snoek With Apricot Basting.

Milk Tart

A custard tart has never EVER tasted so good. Milk tart is the epitome of hearty, sweet treats in South Africa. Our version pays homage to tradition, but ramps up flavour in the form of toasted coconut and condensed. Oh, and it’s deep-dish. Sorry not sorry.

Check out our suggestions for braai mains and sides and salads.

Lamb sosaties with dried apricots recipe

A recipe hailing from South Africa, this kebab like meat skewer is a perfect meal for camping. Tender, juicy lamb is skewered onto branches from a wild bay tree along with apricots and bacon. The leaves of this highly fragrant tree are used in cooking all over the world (known unsurprisingly as bay leaves), but the sticks are quite aromatic as well. The salty-sweet combination, heavily spiced, is perfect for a barbecue. Try this easy lamb sosaties recipe at your next barbecue!

We Asked 13 Sommeliers: What’s Your Favorite Canned Wine Right Now?

Hoping to take advantage of the convenience offered by ready-to-drink beverages, more and more winemakers are breaking tradition and are beginning to offer single-serve wines in cans. While this may offend purists, VinePair happily discovered this summer that canned wines can actually be delicious.

To help sort out the contenders from the pretenders, VinePair turned to wine professionals around the United States and beyond to discover which canned wines currently top their lists. From a sparkling red influenced by the southern Rhône, to wines that pair perfectly with a Thanksgiving spread, keep reading for convenient suggestions that any vino lover can appreciate.

The Best Canned Wines Recommended by Sommeliers

  • Underwood Rosé Bubbles
  • Old Westminster Winery Skin Contact Piquette
  • Sprezza Spritzes
  • VINNY Blanc
  • Nomadica
  • Spier Rosé
  • Two Shepherds “Bucking Luna” Sparkling Cinsault
  • Broc Cellars Love Series
  • RAMONA Dry Grapefruit
  • Sans Wine Company’s Carbonic Carignan 2019
  • Bridge Lane White Merlot
  • Belly Dragger Chardonnay
  • Lubanzi Wines

Keep reading for details about all of the recommended cans!

This Is The Last Corkscrew You’ll Ever Buy

“DEFINITELY Underwood Rosé Bubbles. It’s a joyous strawberry-and-citrus-blossom-flavored wine that’s oh so delicious with fresh salmon and rotisserie chicken.” —Rob Wecker, Master Sommelier and Owner, Bushel and a Peck Kitchen & Bar, Clarksville, Md.

“My current favorite canned wine is actually a spritz. Sprezza makes both a Bianco and a Rosso version of this sophisticated refresher, mixing the venerable Mancino vermouths and local Seattle favorite Scrappy’s Bitters with soda to keep it light. They are delicious and complex, with a pleasant bitterness on the finish.” —Alexandra Stang, Beverage Director, Brendan McGill’s Hitchcock Restaurant Group, Seattle

“I have been on a VINNY Blanc kick lately as my go-to canned wine. There are a lot of great options out there in cans right now, but this blend of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from the Finger Lakes by Thomas Pastuszak is a home run. Its fresh and vibrant fruit with a hint of carbonation makes it great on its own or in a spritz with a twist.” —Matthew Pridgen, Wine Director, Underbelly Hospitality, Houston

“Nomadica. Unlike some canned wines on the market, these are not just Central Valley plonk wines going into a can with a snazzy label slapped on the front. Curated by sommelier Kristen Olszewski, Nomadica only works with trusted growers, and sources grapes from a number of cool-climate, sustainably farmed vineyards along California’s North Coast. They are light, fresh, and complex, and great for a picnic or afternoon on the porch.” —Andrew Pattison, Wine Director, Sushi Note, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

“It has got to be Spier Rosé 2020. This gem of a winery in Stellenbosch is one of the oldest in South Africa, with a history dating back to 1692. Advances in canning technology have provided the market with early drinking options that are not only light and easy to carry about, but staples for many who do not have the luxuries of climate-controlled cellars. This particular rosé has an enormous appeal, mainly because of its freshness and berry flavors that will work for solo drinking or [with] many light dish accompaniments.” —Lloyd Jusa, Head Sommelier and Wine Director, Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Two Shepherds ‘Bucking Luna’ Sparkling Cinsault. It’s the most fun can of wine to enjoy, named after the baby donkey Luna, born four days before shelter-in-place orders went into effect.” —Jordon Sipperley, Wine Director, Tidbits by Dialogue, Santa Monica, Calif.

“I love anything from Broc Cellars. The winemaker, Chris Brockway, recently started canning his Love series. All of his wines are made using spontaneous fermentation, a process that means they only use native yeasts and bacteria that exist on the grapes in order to make wine.” —Brandi Carter, Beverage Director and Sommelier, Elvie’s, Jackson, Miss.

“I love RAMONA because it’s so refreshing, the perfect size, and with so many flavors to choose from, it suits every mood or occasion. I also love that it combines wine with organic fruit juice, which keeps the ABV low, so you can easily enjoy a few guilt-free! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ve been crushing hard on the Dry Grapefruit lately.” —Cappie Peete, Beverage Director, AC Restaurants, Raleigh, N.C.

“‘Right now’ is accurate, because it literally changes every day. Today, it’s Sans Wine Company’s Carbonic Carignan 2019. Yesterday, it was Companion Wine Company’s Riesling 2018. —Jeremy Allen, Beverage Director, Little Dom’s & MiniBar Hollywood, Los Angeles

“Bridge Lane White Merlot from Long Island, N.Y.! What makes their canned wine selection so special is the attention to detail and selection of the lining of the can. Not many realize how important that is to the wine and to the taste and the longevity! And who’s not intrigued by white Merlot?” —Jessica Green, Sommelier and Owner, Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique, Sayville, N.Y.

“Belly Dragger Chardonnay: Everyone knows that we are partial to all things pig, so this label immediately caught our eye. It’s a delicious, rich, structured California Chardonnay, and that just seals the deal for us! We also love their motto: ‘To make wine accessible and fun … for special occasions – like daytime.’” —Jana Rogers, Sommelier, Mulvaney’s B&L Restaurant, Sacramento, Calif.

Seven ecofriendly, sustainable, affordable wines from South Africa

This article was published more than 1 year ago. Some information in it may no longer be current.

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There’s a postage-stamp sized sticker on the neck of South African wines stocked at the liquor store that’s easy to overlook. The seal features an artistic rendering of a king protea, South Africa’s national flower, and a declaration – “Integrity & Sustainability Certified” – by the Wine and Spirits Board followed by some numbers and a web address,

Launched in 2010, the Sustainable Wine South Africa certification seal underscores a commitment to ecofriendly production methods and more. Created by an alliance between South Africa’s wine marketers, wine producers, ethical trade agencies and environmental authorities, the seal certifies that the vintage, grape variety and origin declared are correct.

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It also ensures the wine has been produced in an earth-friendly, sustainable method by producers that are audited by the government on health and safety requirements for workers, usage of chemicals and pesticides, resource management and energy efficiency in the vineyard and winery.

South Africa isn’t alone in the understanding that environmentally sound practices carry weight with consumers. Most winemaking regions have embraced sustainability as a major guiding principle. Notably Chile and New Zealand have also created national wine standards for sustainability that have real substance and veracity. But as wine drinkers increasingly shift their attention to wines with real stories and authenticity, the South African industry is in an enviable position with its abundance of good quality wines at reasonable prices that have been made without exploiting nature or labour in the process.

The numbers on each seal can be entered in at The digits from the seal on the Boschendal chardonnay reviewed below confirmed it was a white wine made from chardonnay cultivated in the Western Cape (the broadest region for winemaking in South Africa) in 2017. It also acknowledged its producer was certified sustainable and that the wine passed its blind tasting, the last hurdle before final certification, on Dec. 11, 2018.

The South African industry has been quick to embrace the transparency and thoroughness of the sustainability practices, with 92 per cent of producers using the seal in 2018 (figures have yet to be released for 2019). The code is just one signal that the South African industry has become increasingly focused on its vineyards, with vines old and new being farmed better and more sustainably resulting in a marked improvement in wine quality across the board.

This week’s recommended wines include several labels that have been in the Canadian market for a decade or more and have never tasted better. They help explain why South Africa is one of the most exciting wine producers at the moment.

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2017 (South Africa)

Boschendal may be one of the largest and oldest wineries in South Africa, but its winemaking team has been keeping with the times. The 1685 Chardonnay style has quickly evolved from the big and buttery international style to a refreshing and rich white wine that delivers a lot of character and complexity for its price. There’s a big oak presence here, but it’s lifted by the pleasing mix of pineapple, green apple and zesty lemon fruit flavours. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, $16 in Quebec.

The latest from Jamie Goode

South Africa’s varietal mix

These days, many wines are sold by the grape variety or varieties that they are made from, but this was not always the case. In the classic wine regions of Europe, people labelled wines by where they came from.

Jamie Goode is a London-based winewriter who is currently wine columnist with UK national newspaper The Sunday Express. As well as writing he also lectures and judges wine.

People in South African Food [ edit | edit source ]

In South African cuisine, a bit apart from other countries, food is usually homemade, prepared by families for their members only. With frequent occasions, food is prepared outside over open fires and cooked in clay or iron recipients, such as potije. However, South African chefs have a great sense of flavor, and they know the secrets to a delicious recipe. The many recipes and even more methods of preparing special traditional South African meals are basically due to the feeling that a chef adds to the cooking process. Combining available ingredients depends on the chef’s personal method, and can result in South African dishes that will become even more original and delicious than the already spectacular ones. The South African chefs take pride in their cooking skills and methods, and one of their many secrets lies in the variety of ways they mix special condiments like sorghum, teff, Barley, and cassava flour. History behind cooking methods and influences has been kept secret from the large majority of people from other cultures.

Watch the video: MOST DANGEROUS Part of Johannesburg, South Africa (November 2021).