Varietal Focus-White

Chardonnay

Great noble variety known for its versatility as well as its ageing ability and ease of growing in the Vineyard. Burgundy in France is the home of this variety but great examples of Chardonnay are being made in Australia, New Zealand the USA and South America. You should get stone fruit and flinty aromas in the unwooded manifestations of Chardonnay and vanilla and butter in the plush wooded styles.

Riesling

Is possibly the most misunderstood white wine variety mainly because of the crimes committed by many popular brands of the 70’s and 80’s. Its main stomping ground is the Rhine and Mosel river valleys in Germany as well as in Alsace which has been French or German or both in the last 100 years. Riesling is known for its freshness and acidity and loves cool climates, really great fish wine

Semillion

pronounced (Sem- mee-yon). Bordeaux is known for her noble red wines, but Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc are sometimes taken for granted and are used to make the worlds best dessert wines. The New World has taken to these varieties with alacrity. Semillon does really well in Australia’s Hunter valley as well as in the Cape. Expect lots of lemony and green apple freshness in less ripe incarnations to tropical fruit like Paw Paw in the riper warmer ones.

Chenin Blanc

A very popular variety for wine makers, as it is an extremely versatile grape variety that can be used to make dry, sparkling and dessert wines. It is widely grown in South Africa and is sometimes labelled in its Afrikaans title of “Steen”. Its pairings with food is as varied as the flavours but the off dry wines pair well with spicy Asian fare and the sweet wines make for outstanding dessert wines.

Sauvignon Blanc

Possibly the most popular variety, really known for its racy acidity and fresh cut grass and gooseberry flavours. Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect summer drinking wine.

Variety Focus-Red

Barbera

Barbera to me is the beautiful, yet slightly under achieving little sister to Nebbiolo. Also from the North of Italy it is the perfect wine to accompany rustic Italian foods and rich sauces, Barbera is a very popular great value drink.

Merlot

Is the comfort variety of the red wine world, coming from Bordeaux in France, it is often Blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to round out the flavours of Cabernet. It is great with hearty dishes such as bangers and mash or a really good gourmet burger.

Pinot Noir

Is the food lover’s wine and has a wide range of flavours. It is low in tannins which makes it versatile as it can be enjoyed with foods as far ranging as oily fish to game birds. It is less popular in Southern Africa as it is notoriously hard to grow and our palates tend to prefer the bigger flavours. Sangiovese: Really stylish really popular Italian variety, a big part in Chianti as well as the only.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The biggest most tannic red wine one of the noble grape varieties, famous for its dark berry flavours as well as its minty flavours is a sturdy grape in the vineyard and hence is grown everywhere in the world. Red meat, especially steaks like rump, sirloin, porterhouse and Tbone.

Nebbiolo

One of the most prized wines of Italy, from the north in Piedmont it grows in the misty slopes of that region and makes beautiful long lived wines. Known for elegance and big tannin Nebbiolo is really something to try and fall in love with for bold red wine drinkers.

Shiraz

Is a variety that hails from the Rhone valley in southern France is a popular variety for its richness and plush mouth feel; less tannic than Cabernet, it is a popular variety and is often blended with the white wine variety Viognier. It is a great variety for richer foods and cuts of meat such as lamb, and beef fillet. Variety in Brunello Di Montalcino. A really stylish less planted variety with loads of versatility. A perfect wine for bold Italian flavours.

Wine Tips

Storage

Wine should be stored in a cool dark place, and lying on its side. Keeping the cork moist is best especially if you would like to age a wine. The temperature fluctuations in a kitchen make it an undesirable place to store your wine. Place your white wine in the fridge for half an hour before drinking for heavier wines, and about an hour for lighter ones. I like to place my red wines in the fridge for about 15 minutes as our room temp is way higher than 16 degrees!

Food Pairings

Try to match heavy dishes to heavier wines, like a big rich Shiraz with a well marbled steak and rich sauce. And a delicate, lemony riesling for fish dishes.

Glassware

I love collecting glassware and while having a special glass for each variety is very cool, its also very unnecessary. I think a good set of champagne flutes are great, their narrow surface areas keeps the wines fresh and helps the bubbles last longer. A great wide rimmed glass for your richer red wines and smaller glasses for white wines.


Decanting

Decanting wines is the process of letting a wine breathe in a larger vessel. This is best done with heavier reds and white wines. Viognier is a candidate for decanting as it does take a while to get going and should be drunk at higher temperatures than other white wines.