South Africa has a such long history of winemaking — and yet it practically seems new to many of us because — finally — their wines are showing up on your favorite wine lists and at your local shops.
Located on the southernmost tip of Africa, South Africa has been making wine for over 350 years.
And the modern South African wine industry officially was reborn in 1994.
Unfortunately, many of the older vines had to be ripped up and replanted. And South Africans continue to fight a ton of ignorance about their country — people still are worried they can contract Ebola from drinking the wines and are afraid to travel there because there could be lions and tigers in the vineyards.
Uh no — to all of it.
And thankfully, the 2010 Soccer World Cup finally convinced people that South Africa was a safe, prospering place.
So the vines are now 15-20 years old and they are trying to get the word out.
But while Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” the South Africans still are not so great at marketing their product.
So here’s what you need to know.
- They have the largest Chenin Blanc, (a white wine grape from the Loire Valley that is halfway between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay) plantings in the world.
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah have made a major comeback. Winemakers making a ton of blends that also feature South Africa’s native grape, the Pinotage.
- 55% of the wine they produce us white and about 45% is red.
- They have sustainable wine-growing practices and the wines have seals as proof.
- Winemakers in the region have taken “a New World meets Old World” approach, so the wines are fresh, with the ripe fruit of modern wines but still have the structure of the classics.
- The $15-$20 bottle of wine is the sweet spot for South Africa and so many consumers.
And while Chenin Blanc, that versatile zesty white wine that pairs really well with food, has been their bread and butter, sales of red blends are on the rise. And those wines have the tannins you need to pair with your grilled red meats and burgers.
So transport yourself to South Africa at this summer. The wines won’t disappoint.
Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for Foxnews.com, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip.
3 South African Wines To Try
Faithful Hound 2013
Bright, deep red. Aromas of blackberry, violet, licorice. Great finish.
Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2015
Golden hued and full bodied, with melon and spicy baked apple aromas.
Mulderbosch Rose 2016
Color looks like ripe, freshly sliced watermelon. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.