It’s time to swirl ’n spit

2011-08-19 09:14

Before you venture into the ­exhibit hall at the University of ­Johannesburg’s Soweto campus, it’s best to visit the festival’s website ( Patrons will receive a free wine-tasting glass and a buyer’s guide.

According to Marilyn Cooper, Cape Wine Master and MD of the Cape Wine Academy, you should make personal notes in the buyer’s guide about what you think of each of the wines you taste so that you know which wines to buy at the end of the event – or later on when ­shopping for wine.

“A wine festival is a great opportunity to taste lots of wines to find the ones you enjoy the most,” says Cooper, who is a founding member of the Soweto Wine Festival.

She adds: “I suggest that first-time visitors start their wine-tasting ­journey with sparkling wines. These include Pongrácz, JC le Roux or Sprizzo. Exhibitors include The House of Krone/Twee Jonge Gezellen and Villiera, all of which are South African. Or you can try the real Champagne from France – Pierre ­Mignon Brut Prestige and Pierre ­Mignon Brut Prestige Rosé, which you’ll find at the TOPS at Spar wine lounge.”

After you’ve enjoyed the wide range of sparkling wines, move on to dry white wines in the following ­order: Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, white blends and Sauvignon Blanc.

“There are literally hundreds of wines at this year’s festival in this range and most of the exhibitors will have their winemakers or ­experts in attendance, so you can talk to them,” says Cooper.

Next up, try the off-dry and semisweet white wines like Orange River Nouveau, Four Cousins and ­Robertson Winery Natural Sweet. Line this up with rosé wines such as 4th Street and Nederburg Rosé.

“Follow these with red wines in the order of Merlot, Pinotage, Shiraz, blends and Cabernet. And finally, end with dessert wines such as ­Noble Late Harvest and Muscadel, and ­finally port,” advises Cooper.

According to Cooper, if you start with sweet wine, you won’t be able to go back to dry white wine because it will taste too acidic. And if you start with a Cabernet in the reds category, it will be too tannic for you to go back to Merlot, which is soft and juicy.

“Finally, remember to spit. This way you will be able to taste far more wines than if you swallow and get drunk,” says Cooper.

Cheers to that!

Tips from an enthusiast
Jacobus van Eeden


a wine fair, check out the map and circle the wines you simply have to


»? Have

a quick walk round to get the lay of the land and see who seems


»? Don’t

just stick to your favourites and well-known labels. Most of the fun at a wine

fair is about tasting and discovering new and unknown wines.

»? Take

a guide. At a fair, the web is best – so do a quick Google of a label on your



may find out more about a wine from your phone than the guy at the stand.

»? Mingle.

You’ll get great suggestions (and a few rubbish ones) from others, and it’s

always good to make new friends.

»? Finally,

follow all the usual fair-related rules. And relax, take your time and enjoy the

wine. It’s supposed to be fun. 

»? The Soweto Wine Festival will be held at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus from September 1. Visit for more ­information

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