“The best way to learn about wine is to drink as much as possible!” Junel Vermuelen, Cape Wine Master, often says. I do not advocate binge drinking, but I do encourage you to expose yourself to a wide variety of labels and wine styles as you possibly can, both local and international.
Wine drinking is fun! Unfortunately the snooty snobbery that goes with wine can make things a bit intimidating for the average person. Do not worry, rather allow wine drinking to be pleasurable and less serious, and with a few key points, you too can embark on a journey of divine discovery. You can even have a fine time doing it.
Tips For Buying Wine:
Don’t be fooled by the tag and label
Too many people put all their faith into the bottle price, but in Mzansi you are shooting yourself in the foot, if you only buy expensive wine. Expensive wines have their place but you do not need to spend a fortune on your midweek tipple. Most South African wine is decent at R25 per bottle and it is almost impossible to buy “bad wine’ that is more than R50 per bottle at retail… (I’m enjoying a glass of R27/bottle writing this). Remember that is about the actual wine and not the actual price.
When confronted by racks of choice: Don’t judge a wine’s taste on how attractive the label looks. Okay you got me there. I still do that. I don’t think I will ever change. You can’t sell me an ugly looking bottle of wine! I will only ever compromise on an odd-bins wine.
Ask for help
Never be afraid to ask for help. They may not look sophisticated but some of the shop assistants have tasted many of the wines. They may have even attended a wine course or two, and been on exclusive tours to the Cape Winelands. Sales reps are always dropping off samples which the staff is meant to taste. I have befriended some of them and they sometimes help me navigate gigantic trade shows like Winex. We all need help there!
Trust your palate
Snobbery and wine rules have their place when it comes to wine. These are guidelines and techniques to aid and enhance your drinking experience but you ultimately need to enjoy it. Always remember to drink responsibly.