Saturday 1 November 2014

Diploma Modules 1, 4, 2, 3... Go!

So I completed and better yet, passed, Module 1 of Diploma at the Cape Wine Academy. I have attended all the Module 4 lectures and will write the exam for such in 3 weeks time... hold thumbs! 
Modules 2 and 3 will be completed next year, after which I will hopefully commence with Masters thereafter, ouch! Masters sounds damn hardcore, but hey, it's all interesting and an excellent learning experience.

Thus far, I have learnt a tremendous amount and realised that no one person will ever know all there is to know about wine. It's such a vast subject with new innovative winemaking techniques always surfacing, differing cultures of countries and appellation/ wine of origin requirements, thousands of grape varieties, various climates,  varying terroir and new clones, it sounds almost impossible to keep abreast and that's what keeps it exciting ;)

Diploma is a lot more intensive then the previous Certificate course, which gives one an excellent foundation of South African viticulture, winemaking and the industry. Diploma Module 1 covered viniculture, viticulture and a brief introduction into France. Module 4 has been about wines of the new world and wow, what a thrilling experience to try different wines from around the world with a similar winemaking style to South Africa. Although new world wines are similar in that sense, per country basis, they are very different in character. It all seemed overwhelming initially, but eventually you start noticing characteristic trends of the various countries and realise the more wine you drink, the better you get! Just as time on the saddle is the best way to get mountain biking fit, sticking your nose into a wine glass and devouring it's beauty, is the best way to become wine tasting savvy. It's such a pleasing experience to be able to identify from which country individual wines in a blind flight come from! Well, it's difficult to get it right every time, but one day when I'm big and after litres and litres of more practice, I should eventually take my tasting abilities a notch up. 

I am thoroughly looking forward to Modules 2 and 3 next year, which will cover "Wines of France" and "Wines of the Old World."
For a list of courses the Cape Wine Academy has on offer, visit their website at: or contact them on 011 024 3616.


Tuesday 5 August 2014

Would You Like Some Cheese With That "Whine?"

Do you enjoy wine? Do you enjoy cheese? How about pairing the two together? 
For those that are interested, the Cape Wine Academy is launching a new course on 21 August 2014 at Miele in Johannesburg. Be sure not to miss out and book asap, see the advert below for details: 

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Haute Cabrière - The Mindset Changer

How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh no, I cant drink red wine, it gives me headaches," or "white wine makes me drunk," or "it gives me heartburn," or "I don't like white wine" etc? Its amazing how this becomes a mindset and marvelous wine takes the brunt of it.

There is a common misconception that sulfites (which occur naturally in the process of making wine and are commonly added to wine as a preservative) cause headaches. Wrong! Sulphites are found in a variety of foods such as fruit juice, dried fruit and even added to drinking water. Now I've never heard someone complain of getting a headache from drinking too much water?? Just face it, you probably just drinking too much of it, or perhaps you one of those unlucky bastards who experience allergy symptoms. Allergy symptoms occur when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. If there is an allergy, the immune system acts as if the allergen were dangerous, releasing a chemical called histamine that causes allergy symptoms. The most common symptoms of a wine allergy are: skin rashes, flushed skin, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, stomach cramps, runny nose and swollen eyes. There are also long-term symptoms of wine intolerance, such as: eczema, headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue and low mood.

Those sulfites have taken me off my original topic here, back to Haute Cabrière. Haute Cabrière is a wine farm located in Franschhoek and known for its delicious Pinot Noir's and Pierre Jordan Cap Classique (bubbly). I decided to write this blog post because on 2 separate occasions, in a short space of time, Haute Cabrière wines have changed mindsets. 
It all started when meeting up with Wimpie, an old buddy for a "meeting" at a golf driving range. Whilst browsing the wine list, I quickly learned that he didn't drink white wine because, wait for it, "he doesn't like white wine." From past experience, I don't drink red wine in the sun. So we had a bit of a problem.... To solve this, we could each order and drink our own bottles of wine, or I could just insist we drink a bottle of white haha. He mentioned that he drank bubbly though, but there wasn't any on the list (thank goodness, as that would have appeared very unmanly and romantic haha). That's when the Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir jumped out from the wine list and screamed pick me, pick me! I told him that most bubbly's are made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and therefore he should put his big girl panties on and try it! 
So he tried it and guess what Wimpie bought the following day? Yes, that's right, a case of Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir! 

Occasion number 2... Sometimes whilst working, I get tired of... working. So sushi and wine always sound more exciting. 
I'm going to detract from the topic again quickly (eish, seems like sushi and wine are calling again) Another misconception, is that you should drink white wine with sushi, however, I recently discovered that red wine pairs far better with sushi because of the prominent soy sauce and wasabi flavours. 
Back to my story... I met Karen at our local spot and when ordering the wine, I remembered that she doesn't drink red wine because, wait for it, "It makes her drunk." Another problem, I don't drink red in the sun. What to do?! I decided to look for an easy drinking red, something light and elegant,... that's it,... Pinot Noir! By chance there was a Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir available. Perfect! A wooded Pinot Noir would have probably erred on the heavy side due to the oaky flavours and higher tannin levels. Karen, being very hesitant at first, allowed me to twist her rubber arm and we ordered the unwooded Pinot Noir. Guess what is Karen's favourite wine and one that she purchases every single opportunity she gets? Yes, that's right, Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir! (Wow, I think Haute Cabrière owes me some commission :) haha)

So, if you haven't tried it yet, get your hands on some Haute Cabrière and perhaps too, can it change your mindset ;) 
Ps. Haute Cabrière have in no way or form asked or induced me to write this post.

Sources for this article include: 

Tuesday 1 April 2014

How NOT, to Sabrage a Champagne Bottle

I wanted to write a post about sabraging, the history thereof and provide a step by step process of how to do so. It really is a VERY simple, yet impressive, procedure which anyone can accomplish if you follow 3 simple basic steps.
But... last night I came across this old video of mine and thought this is too damn good not to share as I almost wet my pants watching it again! So hence this post! "The how to and history of sabrage" post will follow shortly :)

I have sabraged literally over 50 times, using anything from a butter knife to an ax and done so with great success each and every single time. I don't know what the hell happened here, but there could have been a fault with the bottle. With early bottle designs, they tended to explode and the manufacturers kept making them thicker until they could contain the pressure caused by the release of carbon dioxide during the secondary fermentation. 
Or, the bottle was not cold enough. The ideal temperature is between 45-48°F or 7-8°C. Why? It is the pressure and the vibration that will "cut" the glass. A warm bottle has more pressure, which is begging for problems (haha ask me, I have first hand experience). A tip: Don't attempt to chill the bottle using an ice bucket as the most important part of the bottle (the neck area) won't be chilled properly.

So, do not try this at home, but please do enjoy the video!

Thursday 27 March 2014

You Can Go Wine Tasting in the Garden Route!

So I have been frequenting the Garden Route, mostly Knysna to be exact, quite often lately. I wonder if it has anything to do with a beautiful and amazing local lady? hehe, yip, it seems a new passion has wondered into my life, apart from wine and adventurous activities :) But not to worry, she loves wine too, so I am beyond certain that consumption of wine and visits to wine farms will be on the up! Oh yeah!

I must admit I have rather missed Stellenbosch and the Cape Winelands as its been a while since I have paid the awesome area a visit, or popped into a new wine farm to try and discover a hidden gem of a wine, just waiting to quench my thirst. Being from Gauteng, It's taken me a while to start becoming familiar with the wine regions, although the Garden Route is very new to me and to be honest, I never really knew of wine farms in the area.

I was therefore very impressed and surprised when said lady, took me to Bramon, a boutique Wine Estate 20km east of Plettenberg Bay. 
Bramon is the most easterly estate in the Cape, situated  in a mountainous area called The Crags, with gentle slopes and cool sea breezes. The family run estate pioneered vineyards in the Plettenberg Bay area, which subsequently was classified as a Wine of Origin region back in 2005. The Plettenberg Bay Region stretches from the Groot Rivier in Natures Valley, to Harkerville in the west and borders on the bay. 
At Bramon, the first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted in 2000, which have produced an award winning Methode Cap Classique ("MCC") and now a Sauvignon blanc has been added to the range. It was a delight to visit the farm and drink some of their marvelous MCC over a delicious light lunch at the restaurant, with the tables literally in the vineyards! I found the MCC to be refreshing and crisp with lovely lime and apple flavours, finishing off with a buttery hint. I couldn't help but think whilst siting in the vineyards, that anyone requiring inspiration to write, or for what ever other reason, would definitely get it here.

I decided to do a little research regarding wine farms in the Garden Route and to my amazement there are approximately 18 wine farms in the area. So it seems my visits to the Garden Route no longer have to be dry runs, causing me to have withdrawal symptoms from much needed wine tastings and visits to wine farms, bloody marvelous! 
Only Sauvignon Blanc is currently cultivated in the Plettenberg Bay Region and it seems the specialty of the area is sparkling wine, although the area is apparently experimenting with Shiraz as a red variety. 
With this new found information about the Plettenberg Bay Wine Region and seeing that I will continue to frequent the area for obvious regions, I hereby nominate myself to try out all the wine farms in the area! Watch this space...

Practicing to be a wine Farmer :) 

Monday 17 March 2014

Get Your Wine Groove On!

I still remember years ago when my early wine drinking days commenced, it basically consisted of sweet white or rose, because I just couldn't palate the dry stuff. My oh my, how the roles have reversed! :)
That being said, there was always this romance about wine to me. I think it all started when I watched 2 movies "Stealing Beauty," starring Liv Tyler, whom I admit may subconsciously have contributed towards this passion to wine, and "A Good Year" starring Russell Crowe. "Stealing Beauty" is a bit of chick flick, but in my manly defense, it is set on a wine farm in Italy and the footage of the vineyards definitely imprinted, or burnt, I should rather say, images in my mind and feelings in my soul, which still fascinate me to this day. "A Good Year" conjured the same emotion although it is set in Provence, France and it showcases the enchanting wine farm and wine making lifestyle. 

The fact that soil and climate conditions, location of the vineyards and the way in which the vines are treated, determine the quality of the grapes and that the winemaker then needs to produce wine from said grapes, is an art form in which there is much passion required to produce a masterpiece. I think this is what allured me to wine and think of it as something beautiful and special.  

So, I decided to learn more about this alluring beverage. I drank more of it, I read about it and I drank more of it! It was all still a little confusing until a day in 2011, that a Google search revealed The Cape Wine Academy to me. I got so excited when I saw the various courses on offer and I contacted them immediately to enroll in my first course, The South African Wine Course. I have not looked back since that day and my desire to learn more about wine has grown and I completed the Certificate Wine Course soon thereafter. Today I am enrolled for the Diploma Wine Course - Module 1 which commences in April and I can't wait!  I have learnt volumes through the Cape Wine Academy and met many like minded people. Their courses are interesting, the Lecturers are fun and captivating and I am no longer confused about this diverse subject of wine. 

So if you're interested in learning more about wine, as was I, read below about the Cape Wine Academy and the courses which they have on offer. Visit their website and contact them today and I assure you that you will not be disappointed!

Welcome to the Cape Wine Academy
Founded in 1979, the Cape Wine Academy is recognised as the official wine education and training institution in South Africa.The Cape Wine Academy provides a range of social and professional wine courses for individuals and tertiary institutions and specialises in creating bespoke wine-tasting events for corporate clients.
The starting point to learning about wine is the South African Wine Course. On completion of an exam, students can join the Certificate Wine Course, followed by the Diploma Wine Course and ultimately the Cape Wine Masters, the highest qualification in wine education.

The Cape Wine Academy also offers fun and social wine courses to enjoy with friends and family. Choose from the Food and Wine Pairing Course, the South African Brandy Course or the Wines of the World Course and ignite your passion for wine today!

To start your career in the wine and hospitality sector, sign-up for the Front of House Course, boost your skills with the Wine Service Course or enroll for the prestigious Cape Sommelier™ qualification, which is a must for every CV.

All Cape Wine Academy lectures are presented by South African winemakers, Diploma graduates and Cape Wine Masters, who are actively involved in shaping the South African Wine industry today.


Thursday 23 January 2014

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

Hello Winos! 
Happy new year! I have a good feeling that this is going to be an excellent year with hundreds of liters of gorgeous wine and many exciting blog posts, so let's start 2014 with a bang! How do we do that you ask? With a competition!
I'm giving away a double ticket to the Winestyle Summer Winedown taking place in Kyalami, Johannesburg at Tintswalo Waterfall Estate on 7 - 8 February 2014! The Spring Winedown held in September was a great success once again and definitely becoming a popular event on the calendar. So bring your sun block, hats and thirsty selves to enjoy some of the many wines on offer. I think some cool climate Sauvignon Blancs and refreshing Rosés will be the order of the day for my drinking pleasure... What will yours be?

So how do you win these tickets? 
Simple! First person to leave a comment below, wins! Fastest fingers first, Go!

Press Release: 29 November 2013

WineStyle’s  Summer Winedown!
Celebrate the Summer in style.
On the back of our successful Summer and Spring Wine Parties in Cape Town, and our 2 recent Winedown events in Joburg, we are bringing the fun back to Gauteng by popular demand on the 7th and 8th February 2014!

This is 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.

Come dressed in your Summer whites & unwind & relax – amazing wines to taste & buy – live music & delicious food. Buy a few of your favourite bottles, grab a seat on the lawns, order some food & enjoy the day with friends or family. Also remember to bring your dancing shoes! It is a wine party, after all!!

Guests also get an opportunity to purchase these wines, at a special Winedown price. So come and stock up your collection!

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.  Come dressed to our theme; “White with a touch of Bright” and stand a chance to win prizes for best dressed!

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to celebrate the Summer season, with this premium wine event in Gauteng.

        Venue: Tintswalo Waterfall – Kyalami, Gauteng
        Date: 7th & 8th of February 2014  (Friday 5.30-10pm & Saturday 12-7 pm)
        Dress Code: White with a touch of Bright
        Tickets:  R120.00 per person, including a glass
Tickets available at Webtickets  and at the door

For any further information please contact Jeanne or Kalinka  - /
This is the event of the season and we hope to see you there!