Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Wine 101: South Africa

Welcome to another week of Wednesday Wine 101! Today we are going to travel much further South than the last few weeks, where we studied German wines and Norwegian wines. For this week, we are going to look at wines from South Africa!

Before delving into specific information about South African wines, lets talk about the climate of South Africa. South Africa is in the Southern hemisphere, meaning the seasons are opposite from us in Europe and North America- summer is October-February. During the summer, much of South Africa has hot, sunny weather with a few scattered thunderstorms. The winter will see cooler, sunny weather with little rain. Overall, South Africa is characterized by warm & sunny weather with cooler nights.

South African wine has been dated back to 1659, when Constantia- debated to be one of the world's greatest wines- began producing wine. Currently, South Africa ranks as the 9th highest producer of wine worldwide. With the varied climate, South Africa produces both red and white wines. One key thing to note in South Africa is because of the lack of precipitation, irrigation is necessary for the majority of the grapes produced.

The most widely planted grapes in South Africa are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc grapes in South Africa have tended to go towards brandy production, but recently South African Chenin Blancs have become much more popular worldwide. Chenin Blancs from South Africa tend to be dry, slightly floral, and peachy in flavor. Cabernet Sauvignons from South Africa are more full-bodied in flavor with darker, more earthy tones than traditional fruit-forward flavors. You can expect a Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa to have flavors such as black pepper and blackberry. Another grape widely planted in South Africa is colombard- we will talk about this grape another day!

Other popular grapes and wines produced in South Africa include shiraz, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnays. Personally, of the South African wines I have tried, I enjoy cabernet sauvignons the best, followed by sauvignon blanc. My advice to you? Go out, pick up a bottle today, and let me know what you think about this wonderful wine producer! Have you ever tried wine from South Africa before?

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