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by Jean Wethmar

Non wine drinkers believe that wine is for females, special occasions or only for beginners and that it is light. Wine drinkers, however, enjoy wine on any occasion, find that it brings great enjoyment, is about being social with friends, is marvelous with a meal, and it lifts life into another dimension.

Winemaking is often referred to as an art form. The consumer who appreciates the time and effort it takes to create artwork will appreciate the effort it takes to make hand-crafted wines.

South African Wine Regions

There is a bewildering array of wine regions in South Africa: 13 in the Western Cape, four in the Northern Cape and one in KwaZulu Natal.

A World of Wine in One Country

A wide variety of varietals are grown in South Africa. They are mostly French, and to a lesser extent Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Hungarian, as well as a growing number of South African cultivar crosses such as Pinotage (Pinot noir and Cinsaut noir), Nouvelle (Trebbiano and Crouchen blanc) and Roobernet (Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon).

Lovers of Wine Spoiled For Choice

Steenberg Estate has filled a void for casually stylish café-meets-bistro eating with Bistro 1682 in Constantia; a restaurant leading on from an interactive wine tasting space. The light-filled space is inviting and tables spill outside. There is nothing country-cousin about Asian flavor accents livening a plate of grassfed beef tataki, or a creamy parmesan sauce partnering pancetta, broad beans and gnocchi.

Some take the approach of Guardian Peak, where wine dictates the menu direction. Chef Louisa Greeff cleverly matches a specific glass of Guardian Peak wine with a starter or main dish at an all-inclusive price. There are worse ways to admire panoramic Stellenbosch views than over a slice of home-dried fig and beetroot tart tatin with a dollop of toasted nut harissa, warm haloumi on salad leaves and a glass of red on the side.

There are a number of winelands venues that provide representative wine lists for that regional area. The list below is not exhaustive, but provides some options for anybody visiting South Africa.

Bistro 1682 at Steenberg, Constantia. Tel 021 713 2211. www.steenberg-vineyards.co.za

Bouillabaisse, Franschhoek. Tel 021 876 4430. www.bouillabaisse.co.za

Café Dijon, Stellenbosch. Tel 021 886 7022. www.cafedijon.co.za

Cuveé at Simonsig Estate, Stellenbosch. Tel 021 888 4900. www.simonsig.co.za

Guardian Peak Restaurant, Guardian Peak Wines, Stellenbosch. Tel 021 881 3899. www.guardianpeak.com

Ici, Le Quartier Franais, Franschhoek. Tel 021 876 3105. www.lequartier.co.za

Mon Plaisir, Chamonix, Franschhoek. Tel 021 876 2393. www.monplaisir.co.za

Reuben's Restaurant, Franschhoek. Tel 021 876 3772. www.reubens.co.za

The Venue at South Hill, Elgin. Tel 021 844 0033. http://www.southhill.co.za/

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Posted by Jean Wethmar
01 Aug 2010

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