Here we are in 2020. Another vintage is underway and wine teams are anticipating the fruit of their labour. Here are a few things you need to add to your 2020 wine bucket list.
Taste wine from different regions – Diversity is the biggest calling card for South Africa.
While some vineyards are nestled between mountains or braving the Karoo heat, others are poised at the ocean’s edge. With more than 90 000 hectares under vine, one can imagine the magnitude of styles produced. Apart from the five growing regions in the Western Cape, five more geographical units include the likes of KZN, 28 districts and 87 smaller wards. Make a note of the Wine of Origin indicated on the label and keep a logbook of its characteristics. Soon you will build a vocabulary to distinguish one from the other.
Discover new grape cultivars – Never say never. Many consumers have a favourite grape varietal that ticks all the boxes but it is time to step outside that comfort zone. Many are pleasantly surprised by the character of Gewürztraminer or Nebbiolo, contrary to the usual suspects like Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot.
Familiarise yourself with appropriate stemware – Washing a glass worth R300 versus a glass worth R30 might stir an unprecedented fear of breakage, but it opens a new world. There are educational tastings with Riedel glasses where the properties of the various shapes are demonstrated. Once the penny drops, this can elevate the wine drinking experience and do the wine more justice.
Taste wine styles from different countries – Not all South Africans understand the quality of local wines until they’ve made a concerted effort to compare it to their foreign counterparts. Off course there are spectacular wines in legendary wine-growing countries but once you’ve compared a Methode Cap Classique to an Italian Prosecco, French Champagne or Spanish Cave, you can make informed decisions about their intrinsic value and the price you pay.
Article by Samarie Smith, a certified taster and currently the brand manager for Benguela Cove. Follow her all the way until harvest in 2020 for musings from the vineyards.