Of the more than fifty countries on the African continent, only eight are wine producers: South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. Most make only minuscule amounts of bland wine. South Africa ranks seventh in wine-producing countries worldwide. South Africans drink an average of 2.27 gallons of wine per person each year; they’re thirtieth in world wine consumption.
- South Africa has a more than three hundred-year-old istory of grape growing.
- Most South African wine is made by large cooperatives. The best South African wine, however, comes from several dozen small private estates.
- Though the majority of South African wines are white, the growing excitement is for red wines, such as cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and pinotage, a South Africa crossing of cinsault and pinot noir.
Barbecue and Pinotage
A South African braai- outdoor barbecue- is a carnivorous feast that can include grilled antelope, deer, lamb, sausages, and beef. Several grills are set up at the same time, and the meats are cooked without any seasonings so that in the end, their rich, smoky flavours dominate. What do the South Africans consider the perfect barbecue wines? Pintage and shiraz, both of which are gutsy, rustic, smoky reds that easily match the flavours of grilled foods.
The Cape of Good Hope
in 1487 the Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias sailed through tempestuous seas to rough the southern tip of Africa. He named it Cabo Tormentoso, the Cape of Storms. Later, Portugal’s king, fearing that mariners would refuse to sail around the cape, renamed it Cabo de Boa Esperanca, the Cape of Good Hope.
Blessed with sunshine throughout the long summer, South Africa’s wine regions have no trouble ripening grapes. The harvest takes place from the end of January to mid-April. South Africa’s centuries-old wine industry notwithstanding, beer- not wine – is the leading alcoholic beverage. Per ounce, it costs less than soft drinks do.
Visiting South African Wine Farms
The top wine estates in South Africa are all in easy driving distance from Cape Town. Many of them have beautifully restored buildings in the white-washed Cape Dutch-style of architecture. There’s usually a tasting room where, for a nominal fee, you can sample and learn about the estate’s wines. English is always spoken.