While I can by no stretch of the imagination call myself a wine connoisseur, I know what I like and consider myself to have a discerning palate. My forays into wine-tasting have been helpful in isolating the nuances of nose, bouquet, legs, etc., and I have even caught myself identifying ripe figs and guavas in a glass of white wine. The terroir can be identified in the earthier reds, and I can now tell whether it has been matured in a barrel or the modern stainless steel tank. But the only thing that really matters when it comes to buying the wine you are tasting is that you actually like it, initially and after.
The person giving the winetasting will give you, generally, all the information you might want on each varietal, blend or vintage, together with hints as to what your palate will savour. In truth, after the first two tastings, unless you have had an effective palate cleanser (a rarity these days), you will be unable to discern much and will have entered into the spirit of a jolly good day out at a wine farm, with prospects of a lunch with more wine and the purchase of the ones you can remember to take home with you. A wine tasting of two whites and two reds is considered a little mean, and eight may render you legless, depending on your body weight and drinking habits. As an infrequent imbiber, I seldom take more than two sips, fewer if unpalatable, and more if it’s really delicious. Others like to see the bottom of the glass just to make sure as to preference, and will likely buy a few bottles of each, which is what the wine estate is hoping for!
The following three wines are currently top of my list for smooth drinking and palatability. The prices vary from around R55 which enables you to cook with it while you sip (never use cheap wine in your cooking) to possibly R230 (absolutely worth every cent and a necessity, in small quantities, for the enjoyment of life.
Perdeberg : Soft Smooth Red: as far as taste goes, can stand beside the expensive reds with ease. Ideal for everyday quaffing with friends, while adding a touch of class to any meat dish. Buy by the case from the winery, where the restaurant has an excellent menu, or the odd bottle from your favourite supermarket. Ideal for serving the third glass after two of the upper end reds (I once had a Kanonkop red maturing in a dark corner and came home to find that my husband and his friends had enjoyed it as the other half of a Katembe [Kalimotxo]. The horror!) Everything is now well hidden.
Hawksmoor : Algernon Stitch Shiraz Mourvedre. A stunning wine (perhaps due in part to the 2014 vintage, an outstanding year) which will surely convert the most avid white wine drinker to red! Such a delight on the palate that a return visit to this wine estate is on my list for 2023. The owner will relate the history of the farm and the stories behind the names, while enjoying the wine tasting with you!
Klein Constantia : Sauvignon Blanc. I am not at all a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, finding it watery and acidic in general, but this outstanding offering from one of the best wine estates in the country blew that out of the window. A taste sensation on the palate, an SB so far above all others I have ever tasted that I doubt I will bother to ever taste another – no exaggeration. The price fortunately keeps it rather beyond my everyday reach, but for a special occasion with those who will appreciate it (not to be wasted on anyone who won’t!) will elevate the occasion immeasurably. Keep a few in the back of the cellar. NB this is not to be confused with the more affordable range – high end only.