Going from wine amateur to enthusiast can be a daunting challenge. Depending on your level of interest in immersing in the field, there is quite a bit to learn. From basics like wine types to developing your taste, you could spend an immense amount of time learning and not enough time sampling, and that’s no fun.
You could trust the experts, the sommeliers. But that isn’t as trusty a source as you may think. As the U.S. television show Adam Ruins Everything explains, even sommeliers get tripped up when it comes to the sophisticated analysis they’re revered for.
So, what’s an aspiring wine drinker to do? What should they do when even the experts aren’t always sure of what to drink? The answer is simple: try some!
Might I suggest starting with South African wine?
My personal bias aside, you should give Rainbow Nation wines a sample if you haven’t already.
Getting Into Wine
From its start in 1659 to today, South Africa went from being one of the worst known wine producing countries to its current standing as an emerging market with ample choices. In recent years, South African wines became known as a viable, cost-efficient alternative to high-priced French and Napa Valley bottles. Whether you’re out at the liquor store or a restaurant, be sure to keep an eye out for a South African option. You are unlikely to find a better bottle for such a fair price.
Even if you can’t find a South African to sample, I recommend looking for the more cost-efficient options. Novice or expert, unless you find yourself in an ideal circumstance–like a vineyard tour or know exactly what bottle you want–the higher price options probably won’t enhance your experience all that much. If something has an intriguing bottle or the taste overview looks like something you want, give it a try! Usually, $10 to $15 will net you a quality bottle to try. If you approach your wine this way, it won’t matter if you buy an occasional dud wine.
This method allows you sample much more wine in a quicker choice. If you’re looking for South African, you can start with a Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon or Colombard–our most popular types–for just a few dollars. Additionally, South Africa’s top 100 wines of 2015 reveal that the nation has a healthy mix of reds and whites to sample.
From high price to wallet-friendly, South Africa now has your taste buds covered however you want to indulge.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Once you’re feeling part of the wine culture, it may be time to go on an excursion to see how it’s done. Again, might I mention South Africa? It may not be France, Italy or California regarding recognition, but South Africa’s picturesque landscapes and full fields of grapes are a sight worth seeing.
In its current state, the South African wine market hinges on two key components. The first is the country’s struggling dollar, the rand. With domestic curreny in a tumble, tourism to South Africa has become much cheaper. The rand’s struggles pair with increased investment from China and the U.S. while wine quality also continues to rise. The market is expected to double by 2025, so you might want to plan your trip sooner than later or face much higher costs.
However, this could change drastically as the country’s woes continue to plague the Western Cape. The farming sector is being battered by a slew of drought, fires, high temperatures and strong winds that cause severe losses for farmers in the region. It has gotten so bad recently that a bailout has been suggested.
Despite this, the hope for the market continues. Not just because of an increase in quality and notoriety. But also, because the wine industry is the latest to see a rise in black-owned vineyards, a significant sign of progression for the country as a whole. If the literal winds can align with the nation’s winds of change, wine could be a game-changer for South Africa as a whole–as well as its people still looking for a better foothold in the nation post-Apartheid.
Now that you know a bit more about its wine, be sure to lookout for wines from the Rainbow Nation next time you’re looking for an excellent, affordable taste. Be sure to come back here and let me know what you chose. There’s tons of options to choose from. I’d love to hear what you think!