Reading: 5 Glasses Later – An Evening With Wines of South Africa

5 Glasses Later – An Evening With Wines of South Africa

Writing about one wine is (usually) fairly straightforward. Your palate is clean. You delicately sip, savour and swirl your way through the glass. “Is that a hint of pineapple on the nose” you ask your companions coyly, all the while knowing that it’s definitely pineapple. Writing about five or more wines is slightly more challenging. There is, of course, a little bit of palate fatigue and a mild buzz begins to set it. Conversations go from tasting notes to Tinder.   But what is a good wine without good company anyway?

We attended a beautiful 5-course tasting menu paired perfectly with wines from South Africa. The following is inspired by the notes we found in our camera bag the morning after.

Status: Fresh as a daisy
Course 1: Jerk shrimp & scallop with habanero powder
Wine: De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc

Notes: Not getting a whole heck of a lot on the nose. A New Zealand Sauvy B this is certainly not. It’s zesty, meaty and grown up. You will, of course, recognize the apple, with Chenin Blanc-y florals. Not oaked but gently slapped by an acorn. It’s tough to pair anything with (a) jerk (both in food and IRL), you don’t want too much citrus or your tongue will fall off and this wine does a great job of balancing the heat.

Status: Tingly
Course 2: Oysters Rockefeller with 18-month cave-aged Comte
Wine: Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc AND De Grendel Chardonnay

Notes: I am usually morally opposed to oysters Rockefeller as things I enjoy include the flavours of the sea and things I don’t enjoy is feeling like an old man. However, the Comte brings this dish into the present and the visceral, salty, oily and overall awesomeness of this cheese pairs perfectly with both wines. The Chardonnay smells like melted butter and candy corn and has a banging body. The Chenin Blanc was hints of caramel, toast and salinity. Overall a more elegant wine. This is the wine you’d want to bring home to Mom. The Chenin Blanc was the definite winner for our palate, but we happily drank all of both.

Status: Getting warmer
Course 3: Braised beef Tagliatelle with star anise and ancho chili
Wine: Ken Forrester The Gypsy

Notes: If there is anything I learned about food in the course it’s that braising meat with star anise is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The Gypsy is intense and fruity, with plums, green pepper, and eucalyptus. To quote the notes verbatim: “REALLY GOOD. *Smiley Face *”

Status: Poet
Course 4: Lamb shank with Pomegranate syrup, charred eggplant, and cumin-scented heirloom carrots
Wine: Journeys End Shiraz

Notes: On the nose, a burst of alcohol blasts your nose hairs. It’s comfortable like slipping into a dark fruit slipper. Integrated tannins. 5 years to come to grips with them and just enough acidity to carry the fruit.

Status: Übering home
Course 5: Tarte Tatin
Wine: Klein Constantia Vin de Constance

Notes: I usually finish the night off with 3 Manhattan’s not a natural sweet wine, but this one is particularly good. It tastes of elderflower and pineapple cubes and it’s not available at the LCBO (#sorrynotsorry).