Red Or White Wine What’s Your Penchant?

Here’s a short guide to some of the better known South African red and white wines that can help you select your favourites.

Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon:

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine grape grown in South Africa. It is a hardy vine and easy to cultivate, producing consistent flavours.


Bordeaux wines are a blend of red wine varieties and must include at least three of the following five varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.


This is a dark purple wine, with a fresh and fruity taste. The grapes are grown in cooler regions.


The full-bodied Shiraz is ideal for blending with other wines. Shiraz is a fairly recent addition to South Africa’s wine repertoire.

Pinot Noire:

Possibly the world’s favourite red wine and certainly one of the oldest vines, dating back to the 1st century AD. Despite its popularity, it is a difficult wine to produce. The grapes are susceptible to frost and wind, but this sensitivity helps the fruit pick up subtle variations from the soil.


South Africa’s signature wine variety, Pinotage, is a cross between Hermitage and Pinot Noire vines. It has a uniquely New World flavour and is a firm favourite in the country.

Tinta Barocca:

This grape was first grown with the intention of producing port wine, but European Union (EU) restrictions prevented the use of the name, resulting in growers aiming instead for the single varietal Tinta Barocca, which has a rich dark colour and a velvety texture.

Now let’s demystify the white varieties:


Chardonnay has become widely popular in South Africa following its establishment in the 1980s and 1990s. It is often blended with tropical fruit juices to add more interest to the flavour.

Sauvignon Blanc:

One of the most widely planted varieties in South Africa; this wine is hugely popular and is a true rival to the New Zealand wine, thanks to its modern crisp texture.

Cape Riesling:

This wine is made from Crouchon Blanc grapes, but was misnamed Riesling due to a mix-up back in the 19th century when the vines were first imported. It has never become truly popular in the country, taking up just 0.2% of the total vineyard acreage.

Chenin Blanc:

Over 20% of South Africa’s vine acreage consists of Chenin Blanc, making it the most cultivated in the country. It is often known as Steen and has a dry, crisp taste.

Muscat d’Alexandrie:

The Muscat family of grape vines is one of the oldest types. The wine tends to have a slight pear flavour, although it often contains hints of melon or nutmeg.

So there you have it, some of South Africa’s choicest wines. Cheers!
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