Why on God’s green earth did I take it upon myself to blog about South African wines? I wish I could say that my inner voice was calm, and curious when that question popped in my head. It was anything but. It was more of a judgemental and admonishing inner voice. After all, the world is full of self proclaimed experts, so why would I choose to add myself to that list?
My curiosity with wine starts with appreciating that it has a lot of history to it, and relaying a story is something I love to do. I get the opportunity to add the odd anecdote of random information that I learn along the way. I also enjoy drinking it, so why not share my journey and experiences of the fruit of the vine? I almost considered renaming the blog from Creative Domain, to The Grape Vine. But that is the name of my children’s school newsletter, so best not to confuse the two!
I digress. I am still learning about wine. I am comfortable in my skin on the topic of wine, knowing that there is someone out there who will know a lot more about wine than me, and there will also be somebody out there who will know a lot less about wine than me. There are so many wines, and since South African wine is hardly covered as a topic, I figured there is a little place in the sun for me to tend to these green leafy fields. South Africa has fantastic vineyards, producing a vast choice, from the everyday wine, to fine wine that competes and wins in the world’s premier league of wine awards. The South African harvest has recently begun, and so let me also get going with my own production.
I hope you learn something or at least are intrigued enough by one of the vintages I write about to try it out. You might just enjoy it, or you might not. That’s all there is to my wine blog. I am not into the five star rating or some form of points system that is worked by the professionals. I don’t think it’s possible to compare wines, it’s just not as simple as that. We are all complex human beings and wine in of itself is complex, so between those two elements there are way too many variables that make a like for like comparative impossible. The phrase “comparing apples with oranges” comes to mind. For me, the subject is as simple as, I tasted it, I didn’t spit, I swallowed, and it was a HIT or a MISS! A good wine is one that I enjoyed drinking.
I think it is disingenuous to rate wine on a system of 5 stars or points. As human beings we are obsessed with categorising and classifying and stereotyping. Wine is alive and changing, even while in the bottle. Tasting a Groot Constantia Chardonnay 2013 vintage in the last quarter of 2015, versus how it will taste next year will not be the same experience. So what more trying to compare two different vintages of completely different wine types?
If you try different wines, you are bound to start figuring out what works for you. Honestly speaking, the best somellier in the world can’t know what your taste is. They can pair food and wine to their liking, and generally be right. However, if I like vanilla as a flavour, and you don’t, my pushing you towards wooded chardonnay would never be the best answer for you. As a white wine drinker, I have a preference and bias towards chardonnay, but it does not mean I don’t like all Sauvignon Blanc wines.
Don’t get lost in the politics and snobbish antics of wine drinking. Learn a few things to help your vocabulary, but the first important basic I would advise is – start eating a lot of fruit. Think about it, how would you taste strawberry flavours in a wine, if you don’t know what strawberries taste like as a fruit? If you have not eaten a peach, without sugar and all sorts of additives on it, how would you recognise stone fruit tones in any wine you drink? In fact start being mindful of all the flavours you come across that have nothing obvious to do with wine …………cinnamon, aniseed, chocolate……
That’s as obvious as my approach has been to wine tasting. I guess you could argue my interest in wine made me healthier in that now I eat a lot more fruit. I am more trying to understand and describe what it is that I am tasting, and determining for myself whether I like it or not! What I strongly suggest you shouldn’t do, is put wine in a box, if you wish to enjoy the journey. For instance, if you have a belief system that says white wine goes with white chicken or fish and red wine goes with red meat, we are not on the same page!
I am doing this to share more about our South African Winelands, and the wonderful craft that produces such inspired taste. Wine makers will tell you that every vintage is a challenge, and yet we, get that bottle and take off the screw cap or pop the cork and think it is just another bottle. Making wine is not as simple as fermenting grapes and putting the produce in a bottle. How you enjoy it though, is, and it is really up to you, not what the stickers say, or the ratings from the wine connoisseurs.