Monday 2 December 2013

The Most Unusual Wine I Have Tasted

I’ve tasted many unusual wines; wines from different countries, wines which were made with interesting styles and sensational wines which have given me bliss orgasms in my mouth. Hmmm... “so what’s the most unusual wine I’ve tasted,” I ask myself... Perhaps it’s the 1989 Chateau Ausone Saint Emilion I won just over a year and a half ago? Yeah, that’s totally unusual as its 25 years old and costs around R4 000 a bottle! Definitely not an everyday quaffer right? There’s only one problem, as I peer over my left shoulder and catch a glimpse of the dusty bottle we speak of, resting peacefully in my clay wine rack – It hasn’t been opened yet! So per definition of ‘tasted’: past tense of - try or test the flavour or quality of (something) by taking some into the mouth; I haven’t tasted the wine…

Back to the drawing board… As my cheek muscles pull a smirk, I recall the first time I made my own Shiraz. I acquired a winemaking kit and Shiraz grapes from Paarl in the Western Cape. The whole winemaking experience was extremely interesting and memorable, as my then 2 year old son, Adriano Gouveia, assisted in stomping the grapes with his feet. Adriano couldn’t pronounce his name but used to say ‘Nano Fire’ instead, hence I dubbed the wine ‘Nano Fire.’ Looking at this photo now reminds me how much the little guy has grown! 

Measuring the sugar content of the must (mixture of grape skins and juice) with my Ballingmeter and ‘punching the cap’ (pushing the floating grape skins down) every day, was such an exciting learning experience.

“So why was the shiraz I made unusual” you ask? It’s not every day that I get to drink wine that I’ve made with my own bare feet and the memory of it gives me happy thoughts. I’d love to say it’s because it was the best damn wine I have ever tasted, but alas, it wasn’t! Don’t get me wrong, I was reasonably impressed with my first attempt, the wine was drinkable, although slightly in your face with a punch of tannins. The name ‘Nano Fire’ was quite fitting in retrospect J I should’ve let my masterpiece age a little longer before prematurely and proudly drinking it! 

What Role Does Wine Play in Everyday Life?

Benjamin Franklin said it best; “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy."
Wine is multifaceted and plays numerous roles in everyday life... 8 basic ones according to me:

Mentally, it’s the muse when creativity is lacking; the relaxer after a stressful day at work; it’s the therapist to bottled up emotions; the personality in a bottle to the introverts; or it’s the nerve calmer to the sweaty-palmed guy taking a hot chick on that first romantic date.
Ok, so alcohol in general can lower inhibitions, relax or inspire that spark of creativity, but let’s face it, wine is classy:

From an Economic point of view, wine can be invested in by purchasing and reselling particular wines for a profit, or by purchasing shares in an investment wine fund. Experts suggest focusing on the top wines from the best vintages as only a fraction of the wines produced worldwide increase in value at a rate that would justify the risk and the expense. Buying investment wine requires storage in professional temperature-controlled cellars. 

In addition, the more wine we drink, the more jobs are created in the wine industry, so cheers to boosting our economy!

Decorative & Functional – Not only is wine beautiful in your mouth, but used corks and empty wine bottles can be utilised for decorative purposes too. The uses are only limited by your imagination - How about these funky wine bottle chandeliers?

Wine can be functional too – Need a present for a birthday or a congratulatory gift? Many appreciate a good bottle of wine.
You can also use empty wine bottles to store homemade sauces etc. Think of it as classy Tupperware, it’s a pleasure ;)

Wine Has an Awesome Pairing Role with Food and if done correctly, flavours are enhanced to make the food taste like “more!” and vice versa. The trick to pairing is that both should complement each other and neither should dominate the other.
Personally, I also cook with wine and sometimes I even add it to the food.

The Social Butterfly is often a conversation starter at many a dinner party. “Wow Murphy, where on earth did you find this wine?” “Well Gerald, funny story actually. Whilst on business in Stellenbosch, I got lost and ended up on a dirt road to the wine farm. The winemaker, Edward, greeted me and asked if I had arrived for the tasting. I looked at my watch and realised I was an hour late for my meeting, so I thought to myself, ‘bugger it.’ A delightful tasting led to myself and old Eddie getting totally sloshed and I bought 6 cases of the marvellous stuff. Please don’t tell Mary about this. If she asks, I won the wine at a golf day, the one which raised money for orphaned children.”

Wine is the reason wine clubs meet religiously on a weekly basis to consume, I mean taste wines. It’s also the reason members of book clubs meet to discuss books they have read - yeah right!
Along with its bubbly counterpart champagne, wine is used to congratulate achievements and celebrate momentous occasions. It’s the choice of beverage when going out or meeting friends. It’s the comforter alongside a crackling fire on a nippy winter’s night; the companion to a braai or picnic at the pool on a summer’s day. Red wine is the reason we look at ourselves in the mirror with black teeth in the morning and smile and think: ‘awesome night.’

Wine Inspires Travel – As Gautengers, we cease every opportunity to visit the Winelands. Business trips to the Cape are welcomed with open arms and detours to wine farms always miraculously fall into place.    
Wine connoisseurs travel the world and are romantically allured by the old world styled wines and history France has to offer. Holidays are planned around having a Château Margaux in Bordeaux, A Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand or perhaps a Penfolds Coonawarra Shiraz in Australia.   

Sexy Times - "Women who drink 2 glasses of wine a day are said to be more active in bed. In simple words, they enjoy sex better." I don’t think further substantiation is required, drink up ladies!

Still not convinced that wine plays an important role in everyday life?
Well if this last role does not sway you, then you are without a doubt a teetotaller:

There are several Health Benefits of drinking the fermented grapes we know as Wine! I’m actually going to pour myself a glass as I type this…
Before you, in the hopes of becoming immortal, down bottles and bottles of wine on a daily basis, the health benefits are achieved from moderate consumption which is defined as one to two 120ml glasses per day. Wine:
  • Promotes longevity, perhaps not immortality, but hey, who wouldn’t like a few extra birthdays;
  • Reduces heart-attack risk;
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease;
  • Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Lowers the risk of a stroke;
  • Cuts the risk of cataracts;  
  • Cuts the risk of colon cancer;
  • Slows brain decline.

In conclusion, as I look at my glass of wine which has 1 sip left, I telepathically say to it: “thank you for fulfilling your daily role in my life you fine beverage. Until tomorrow, we shall meet again,” *sip. 

Veritas Young Wine Writers Competition 2013

So, if you haven't heard yet, I am delighted to say that I was awarded 2nd place in the Veritas Young Wine Writers Competition! :)

The prize giving was held at Degrendel Wine Farm in Durbanville last week Monday, 25 November 2013, where several glasses of the cool climate Sauvignon Blanc and unreleased Chardonnay, were thoroughly enjoyed by myself and Marthelize Tredoux (the winner).

I was ecstatic to receive an email from Veritas a couple weeks ago, inviting me to join the prize giving function, with flights paid for from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Any chance to spend time in the Cape Winelands is much appreciated! Just imagine my surprise when my name was announced as the runner up to the competition? Absolute bonus! I don't think I stopped smiling and it was great to meet some wonderful people in the wine industry. 

To enter the competition, an article on one of the following two subjects had to be written:

  • What role does wine play in everyday life?
  • Describe the difference between wines to be enjoyed as 'quaffers' and wines that do justice to certain cuisine.
As well as a blog on:
  • What is the most unusual wine you have tasted and why?

Below is a link to my entries, which I will be posting to my blog shortly: 

To my international readers, or those of you perhaps not familiar with Veritas, here is a link to their website as well as a brief description of the organisation below:

The Veritas Awards is the longest running and most prestigious wine competition in South Africa and is synonymous with excellence in wine. The organisers, the South African National Wine Show Association (SANWSA), represents the full spectrum of the industry. 
After almost two decades the Veritas Awards has earned its reputation as one of South Africa’s most authoritative and credible competitions for market ready wines. The Awards with its coveted Veritas emblem, has become synonymous with top quality wines. The results are trusted implicitly when international as well as local wine buyers use them to assist in their buying decisions and also when the ordinary wine lover simply selects a bottle from the shelf to enjoy with dinner.

So I will end off by saying that I will definitely be entering the competition again next year, although this time I will be gunning for 1st position! :)

Thursday 8 August 2013

Competition Time! - Win Tickets to the Winestyle Spring Winedown in Jozi

Stand a chance to win double tickets to this awesome event taking place in Kyalami, Johannesburg at Tintswalo Waterfall Estate on 13 - 14 September! The winter winedown held in June was a great success and enjoyed by all, hence the sequel - The Spring Winedown is back by popular demand to tantalize your taste buds.

So how do you win these tickets? 
You have until the 31 August 2013 to leave a comment and say what is your favourite wine to welcome spring with?

Want to increase your chances of winning those tickets?
Be creative, go nuts and create a commotion. Good luck!

Details of the Spring Winedown are below:

Press Release: 29 July 2013

Shake off the cobwebs in Jozi this Spring at WineStyle’s Spring Winedown.

The Winestyle Spring Winedown is an opportunity to unwind and relax, it not just another average wine show – we are offering you the opportunity to taste some of the ‘Best of the Best’ and to rub shoulders with the wine professionals involved in creating your favourite wines all on the backdrop of the gorgeous Tintswalo hotel @ Waterfall Estates.
This beautiful destination has a spectacular 360˚ degree view with rolling lawns, big windows and a stunning open terrace to enjoy a Jozi Spring day, with great food and wine, live DJ and chilled out vibe. Bring your family and friends, and come spend the day with us.

The “Spring Winedown” is a wine party, not a wine trade show. It’s a celebration of food and wine and for people who like to have fun. The event is unlike a traditional wine show, and encourages guests and exhibitors to engage, unwind, eat, drink and pick up a few wine tips in the process. Guests also get an opportunity to purchase these wines, at a special Winedown price. So come and stock up your collection!
On the back of our successful Summer and Spring Wine Parties in Cape Town, and our first Winedown event in Joburg, we are bringing the fun back to Gauteng by popular demand.

A ticket gets you entrance and a tasting glass, to roam around and taste for free, buy wine by the glass or bottle, order some delicious platters, picnic style tapas or sushi, find a spot on the lawn and relax with friends and family for the day. Remember to pick up a few cases of wine to take home too!

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to shake off the cobwebs, leave Winter behind and celebrate this Spring in style!

• Venue: Tintswalo Waterfall – Kyalami, Gauteng
• Date: 13th & 14th of September 2013  (Friday 5.30-10pm & Saturday 12-7 pm)
• Tickets available at Webtickets:
          -R100.00 per person attending, including a glass (Webtickets) 
          -R120.00 at the door per person including a glass
Check out for more info and specials:

Our site:



For any further information please contact Jeanne:

This is the event of the season and we hope to see you there! 

Thursday 1 August 2013

How To Make Glühwein

Friends of mine had this awesome idea to make glühwein and braai. The weather for the coming Saturday looked promising, cold and miserable, just perfect for glühwein consumption. Woo hoo! (Never have I been so enthusiastic about consuming a warm beverage). 

Glühwein (roughly, "glow-wine," from the hot irons once used for mulling) is popular in German speaking countries and in the region of Alsace in France. It is a traditional beverage that is offered during the Christmas holidays. 

We each brought along a bottle of cheapish red wine to contribute to the copious amounts of glühwein we would make and consume. Everything was running smoothly, cold weather - check; construction of make shift fire pit consisting of steel droppers and wire mesh - check. Then the tempting sun called us towards her warm and inviting rays. So we sat in those rays and drank. Now myself and a few others wisely consumed beers, ciders or white wine as our choice of beverage, although there were certain individuals who insisted on drinking red wine in the sun. I warned them against this, but alas my words were ignored... 

Kids, (assuming you are 18 years of age or older as the wine oak promotes responsible drinking) here is the after defect (haha I meant to type effect but I actually prefer predictive text's word suggestion) of drinking red wine in the sun:

We had an awesome day and when the sun finally set, we switched to the glühwein which had been steaming on the stove. It came out mouth wateringly (is that a word?? Well it is now) delicious. Oh yes, we did eventually braai and eat too.

We have 1 month of winter left in South Africa, so I would recommend making your own glühwein ASAP. There are several recipes on the Internet, but this is the one we tried, with a tweak or 2:

Ingredients for 4 glasses of glühwein:
3/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of white sugar or brown sugar or honey for a different flavour
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon
1 orange
10 whole cloves
1 bottle of red wine (750ml)

  1. In a large pot, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks and place on heat. Stir slowly until the sugar has dissolved, whilst  bringing to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
  2. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into the simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange skins and place them in the simmering water.
  3. Cut the lemon in half, add the halves to the simmering water and continue simmering for 30 minutes until thick and syrupy and then reduce the heat.
  4. Pour the wine into the pot and slowly heat until steaming but not simmering for 10 minutes. Do not bring to the boil at any point as this will cause the alcohol to evaporate.
  5. Remove the clove-studded orange halves, lemon halves and cinnamon sticks.
  6. Serve hot by pouring (a ladle works well) into individual mugs or glasses that have been preheated in warm water (cold glasses will break). 

Wednesday 24 July 2013

The Braai Oak

So I've never written a post of this kind before and I doubt it will be a regular subject. Recipes and cooking aren't exactly my forte or passion. Don't get me wrong, I do cook for my son and I, and we are still alive, awesome, and I'll pull off the Don Juan moves by cooking a romantic meal for that special lady, although I will intuitively and smartly use my charm and wine, to somewhat distract said special lady from the meal in order to place the emphasis on the ambiance... (Ssshhh, if the women's network finds out about this, I may experience future challenges).
Lets face it though, wine and food pair, and I've been known to enjoy standing around hot coals and braai, aka barbecue. 

So why is braaing cool?:
  • Man make fire, arrr - boost to manliness and ego; 
  • You have wine in hand - need I say more?; 
  • Braaing is a healthy form of cooking as the fat from the meat drips away through the grill; 
  • You're outdoors, who hoo - increase vitamin D intake and finally 
  • It's sociable and you get to talk and be silly with your mates. Ps. Invite some mates.

So here's my attempt at a braai and wine pairing, a vegetarian braai I will add, which is extremely unusual for me as I am a carnivore of note.

What you will need:
Large mushrooms
Peppers (Red, green and yellow)
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Wine, lots of it (Chenin blanc will go down well)

Preparation (Let me reiterate that I am not a chef! So use your own initiative for better preparation and presentation skills)
  • Have a sip of wine
  • Turn the mushrooms upside down and drizzle with olive oil, stuff with garlic, butter and cheese. (Mushrooms add meatiness to a vegetarian braai).  
  • Drizzle the asparagus and mielies with olive oil and coarse salt.
  • Have a sip of wine

  • If you have a braai such as a Weber or a gas braai with a lid, you can cook the mushrooms in such, if not, bake the mushrooms in an oven for about 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and mushrooms are warmed through.
  • Put the mielies and asparagus on the grill and turn occasionally until grilled. 
  • Put the peppers on the grill and ensure there is a a slight flame to enable the outer skins to burn and blacken slowly all over. Once this is done, allow the peppers to cool down slightly and then place the peppers into a plastic shopping bag. Then tie a knot in the bag and rub the peppers all over with the plastic bag until the outer burnt skin has been completely removed revealing the flesh of the peppers. Rinse slightly with water if there are still pieces of burnt skin on the peppers. Dice the peppers up and together with the seeds, add vinegar, salt and olive oil to create the best damn pepper salad ever!
  • Have some more wine.

If you eat fish, add tuna stuffed tomatoes:
  • Mix tuna with mayonnaise, chopped onion, salt and pepper. It was suggested to me, thank you to you know who ;) to add lemon zest, dill and a touch of fennel to the tuna which sounds delicious.
  • Cut the tops of the tomatoes off, hollow it out by removing the flesh with a spoon and then fill the cavity with the above tuna mixture.
  • Get your glass of wine and yes, you know what to do...

So what did I pair this all with?
The trick to pairing wine with food is that both should compliment each other and neither should dominate the other.
I paired the food with Chenin blanc as there was no red meat and therefore a dry white would work well with the vegetables and tuna. The 2011 Simonsig Chenin Blanc was fruity and complimented the food well with its full body which stood up to the "meaty" mushrooms. Chenin blanc is a versatile varietal and can range from fresh and fruity to rich and ripe. See more detailed information regarding Chenin blanc in a previous post I wrote: 

Happy Braaing!

Ps. Have another sip of wine...

Wednesday 17 July 2013

A Guy, A Girl, Wine and a Sea Breeze

So it has been about 7 months since my last post… Sis on you, The Wine Oak, sis on you! I honestly thought that Bouchard Finlayson, dubbed the muse in my last post, would have inspired the weekly blog updates, alas, things have been hectic.

That said, I now have better time management skills and a new muse, a pair of muses in fact, with the first being a body of water we know as the ocean and the second being an awesome blogger, who may have slightly threatened me should there be no post up by tomorrow morning J Well it seems my required kick in the ass was motivation enough as I am now dusting off the keyboard and typing this post. Thank you Jade ;)
Be sure to check out her interesting and fun blog: which covers topics from wine, travel, fashion, food, recipes, book and movie reviews and fun nights out, which all you ladies will definitely love. 
I am convinced that no matter what reason you may need inspiration for; a visit to the beach will solve that problem. It was whilst consuming a couple bottles of wine, with aforementioned gorgeous blogger, that the smell of the fresh sea breeze and the calming orchestra of the lapping waves did wonders and reminded me of my passion for the fermented grapes.

What’s this blog post about? Its about a concerted effort for more regular posts to my wine blog and about drinking wine on the beach!

It all started with a bottle of JC Le Roux Sparkling wine, as this is what Pili Pili, a funky beach bar in Sedgefield, had to offer in terms of bubbles. As you can see in the pics below, we consumed the bubbles in the sun. I must reiterate that for the non seasoned drinker, this is a big NO NO, as the combination of sunlight and bubbles will give you an instant personality in a bottle J
Although if this is what you are after, add a straw for a “next level experience…” (The Wine Oak promotes safe and responsible drinking) J

We proceeded to walk on the beach, then run, then do a few cart wheels and then finally settle down to enjoy a bottle of white and enjoy the sea view.
If you’re going to have some wine on a beach, I would recommend taking some steel goblets along as opposed to wine glasses – between the running and cart wheels, glass is bound to break.

So what wine is good to drink on a beach you ask? Well anything tastes good in the sun and at the sea, even “doos wyn” (“box wine” for you foreign folk). But life is too short to be drinking bad wine, so I would suggest a wine which compliments seafood, as you will be smelling and even tasting the similar fresh sea breeze. Something light and crisp, so most Sauvignon Blanc’s should go down a treat. If you’re unsure what to chose, opt for the old faithful table wine, Graça, which is well priced, easy drinking and awesome in hot weather. While the sun is still belting down, I would steer clear of red wine. Just a tip, use it, don’t use it…

The next day, back on the beach, we had a bottle of fruity Graça Rosé, also great with seafood and therefore suiting my theory of complimenting the similar fresh sea breeze. The rosé is off dry and slightly sweeter, so if you are planning on doing a couple of face plants into the sea shore or eating beach sand, the sweeter taste is comforting and neutralising towards the saltiness. The eating, drinking, laughing, singing and dancing wine held true to its word. I shall say no more J

“Let’s do that again!”