Being on holiday in Cape Town we really enjoy catching up with our friends. The other night we had a Braai at our rented house and invited seven of our very oldest friends to join us. Our children were in bed and stayed there, so we got to enjoy an adult only evening of fun and conversation.
Our friends were a real tonic, the joy to share an evening with them under an African sky was a memorable moment. The group was an ecletic mix of personalities; there was an Accountant, a Fashion retailer, a digital marketing dude, a Surgeon, a Craft beer maker, a freelance travel writer and a builder all sitting around breaking bread and enjoying drinks at our table and sharing of our lives over laughter.
If you ask me Wine is a vital ingredient at any social gathering. Vino Veritas – in wine there is truth, is the easiest of ways to promote conversation and (over) sharing. As we seldom see our friends in the flesh living so far away in England, the time to slip back into old familiarity and pick up where we left off, is in short supply, Wine just speeds up the process. It is the twin sister to Food for me, complimenting the flavours and sometimes if the chef is having an off day can ameliorate the whole dining experience. It works for me.
The only thing i need to keep an eye on is that i have to make sure the wine doesn’t flow too freely my way. At home i try to live by a rule, two glasses is perfect, three makes me sloppy. On holiday this goes out the window though and three often becomes four. Like it did on this night because the morning after i woke too early to my child tapping my cheek telling me it was morning (I beg to differ it was 5.40am), with a sore head, dry mouth and face full of make up. The markers of a great night perhaps but one only multiple cups of coffee and water, dispensed simultaneously, would jump start.
The night was a great one though and once the hangover abated i relished in reliving such a lovely time with our friends. We were sitting outside on the decking, next to the Rim Flow pool, over looking the beach, with the moon’s celestial reflection shining on the waves crashing below and us enjoying our time together, i got so over excited and celebrated the only way i know how. Oscar Wilde’s ‘i can resist everything but temptation’ line could have been meant for me as i refilled my glass too many times. I bailed out at 1am and my husband got to bed at 4am as the conversation continued to flow between him and couple of stragglers. It turned out once everyone had left them to it, one of them wanted to share the saddest of news, a deeply personal and unwanted divorce was imminent for him and his wife and they sat sharing more wine which eased the melancholy mood that hung in the air and turned it into a more philosophical one.
For the wine in South Africa is off the charts, phenomenal. Regal Reds and Wonderful Whites are plentiful and produced locally. Wine tasting and visiting the farms is a brilliant experience and hobby for most. We have been to many farms over the years; Fairview, Graham Beck, Glen Carlow, Delheim, Kanonkop, Boschendal to name but a few of my favourites, but like any experience its the company you keep and the times i visited these Estates i was in brilliant company. On this trip to Cape Town we went back to Glen Constantia. An old favourite, boutique Estate that has been producing wine since 1685.
We turned up on Tuesday morning at 11am with our three and two year old in tow and quickly sampled their Wines up for Tasting for R50; 3 whites and 2 reds. All awesome and all can be brought back in the UK by their English agent Berry Bros. Saves the schlep of disguising in your suit case, risking breakage and having to carry them home like a mule. We bought their Red Constantia Glen Number 5 to savour and a few extra for gifts for our family & friends back home.
Wine is a big, real deal in South Africa. It is drunk on a huge scale and there are connoisseur’s on every corner. The South African’s know their grapes and rightly so because so many great ones are cultivated there.
I actually feel a little embarrassed when i’m in a conversation and wine is discussed. The technicalities don’t interest me (i just like drinking it) and i’m sure its the reason i can’t retain the knowledge, or maybe its i drink too much and then forget. I just know what i like; robust reds and silky light whites….thats the extent of my wine talk, thankfully my husband is the one who takes great pleasure pouring over the menus in bars and restaurants. He will often declare ‘this is a you wine’ as the sommelier pours into my glass. Meaning its full and well bodied, whereas he prefers them a little lighter. Wine is a personal thing and that should never be forgotten especially by those with superior knowledge or collection as we all have our preferences, yet when administered makes us the same and whatever has or is happening in our lives it is in Vino Veritas.
Notes from an ignoramus wine drinker:
What i usually drink when I’m in South Africa are:
Pongracz – Sparkling Rose Wine. Obviously can’t be called Champagne as its made in South Africa and not the Champagne region of France, but it’s better then most of the top shelf Champagnes (or Sparkling wines).
Graham Beck Brut – Sparkling wine. Another outstanding Southern Hemisphere contender
Rupert & Rothschild – Red Classique
Boschendal – Sauvignon Blanc
Haute Cabrierre – Anything they do but especially the Chardonnay Pinot Noir
Meerlust – Merlot
Meerendal – Bin 159
Constantia Glen – Red Number Three & their Five
Inverroche – A South Africa Gin Verdant – with wild Cape Fynbos Botanicals mixed with Tonic Water. (Actually a new addition in their liquor stores but such revelation to a G&T advocate or for those who aren’t so keen on Wine or need a break from it).