Wine and dine in Soweto

2011-08-05 14:51

‘You’re a lush!” exclaimed a friend when I expressed my excitement about the upcoming Soweto Wine Festival.

If I remember correctly, she said something only slightly less ­disparaging when I expressed the same ­sentiment about the Gugulethu Wine ­Festival earlier this year.

While I may not be a fall-off-your-chair drunk, I do admit to ­liking my wine ... a lot. So the thought of missing out on ­sampling some of the 950 wines on ­exhibition at the festival is incomprehensible to me. Heck, I’ve even taken a beginner’s course with the Cape Wine Academy!

Like many people, my introduction to wine came in the form of the sanguine ­Chateau Libertas – which has just launched its new-look packaging – way back when. I hated it, but that didn’t stop me. The wine’s tannin may have momentarily deadened my senses, but it had awakened my curiosity.

Many years later, I’m still learning. And there’s no better school than a festival.

Marilyn Cooper, Cape wine master, joint founding member of the Soweto Wine ­Festival and MD of the Cape Wine Academy, says: “Visitors will taste about 950 different wines from all over South Africa over three evenings to discover The One – the cultivar or variety they most enjoy.

“People are also faced with a shift in ­perceptions of wine drinking and drinkers. The festival’s ­focus is on ­integrating wine into people’s homes and ­enhancing their existing lifestyles.”

According to Cooper, the idea of having a wine festival in Soweto was hatched around a braai in Pretoria in 2004 between neighbours Lyn Woodward and Mnikelo Mangciphu.

The two were drinking wine out of Soweto Beer Festival glasses and, several glasses later, thought it would be a great idea to have a wine festival.

“Wine is such that it should be a way of life for all South Africans to enjoy, and there is a wine for every occasion and for every food type,” says Cooper.

The event’s co-founder, Mangciphu, who owns the Morara Wine Emporium in ­Soweto, says “we are upping our game this year” to cater for an 8 000-strong crowd.

“The festival now caters for a large market of educated black wine drinkers. In fact, 51% of the festival visitors fit into this premium market. Just six years ago, these figures were reversed.”

This year, besides the wine tasting, visitors can expect good times at the interactive wine lounges set up by Distell and JC le Roux, Nederburg, KWV and DGB. And make sure to attend the popular Nederburg Wine & Food Tasting Theatre presented by the vineyard’s white wine maker, Tariro Masayiti.

Presenting red, white and dessert wines, ­Masayiti will encourage visitors to try foods ­representing the five taste sensations.

» The Soweto Wine Festival takes place at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus from September 1 to 3. Visit

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