It’s getting to that time when people are saying, “enough with the coffee pinotage already.” I don’t mean they are tired of drinking the stuff, rather that they are fed-up with my rants and raves on the subject. “We get it,” I hear them crying, “you don’t like the stuff. Move on.”
I have tried, dear readers, I have tried so hard to seal my lips on the subject. I have tried to make the blasphemy a blasphemy itself. I have kept mum. I have kept it inside. That is, until I came across this:
I didn’t go looking for it, believe me. I was casually cruising the aisles of a nondescript bottle store when this garish thing assaulted my senses. And if you think assault is too strong a word then I must assume your aesthetic sensibility has been somehow numbed. Did you not get enough hugs as a child? Did you get screams instead of sweet-nothings whispered in your ears? This thing should hurt the eyeballs of every human who has eyes to see. It is an affront to good taste. A halibut to the cheek of Beauty.
After wiping the tears from my eyes, I made my way over to see what could have been put in such an ugly bottle. I should have known though. The bottle, champagne shaped (I apologize Champenois, my countrymen know not what they do) had confused me briefly, but only one vinous creation could be housed in a bottle this ugly. But no, I thought, they couldn’t have? It could not have come to this, could it? As I picked up the ghastly thing my worst suspicions were confirmed; KWV has made a sparkling version of their Cafe Culture. They call it Choc Mousse. Hah, a joke. Very clever. Mousse is the term for the texture bubbles in sparkling wine offer. I can see the Parlotones’ version already, “A Giant Moussetake”. At least that name would have an element of truth in it.
Sparkling wine made from red grapes is no new thing – of course Champagne can use Pinot Noir – but the category Cafe Culture is playing in are sparkling wines made from ‘normally made’ red wines; wines aged in oak, with overt tannins etc. The Italians make some rather tasty ones, and the Aussies take their sparkling Shirazes very seriously, producing them in the classical method with a secondary fermentation in bottle, and extended leeds aging.
The best known locally is The Solms-Delta Cape Jazz Shiraz. I find it a little too sweet, and if it is left to warm up gets a bit sickly, but it has its fans. The other which is more serious and made in the Champagne style is the MCC Shiraz from Camberley. Although (in my opinion) that’s like saying limericks are more serious than “knock-knock who’s there” – they’re both jokes. But neither are as slapstick as Cafe Culture’s Choc Mousse.
After leaving it in the freezer so it was just above freezing point (I would give the wine all the advantage it needed), I popped the cork and the room filled with a familiar, almost acrid smell. I poured a glass and hesitantly put it to my lips. Simply put the wine is a simple, unattractive, “coffee” pinotage that has been put through a soda-stream with a dollop of sugar for good measure. Sweet. Sickly. Fizzy. Is it the worst wine I have ever tasted? It’s close. Actually, once I tasted it I felt like deleting this whole bloody column. Carbonated chocolate pinotage. Those are all the words I should have had to type. One doesn’t mind a wine that attempted something different and turned out poor. That, at least is interesting. But this wine is simply a cynical marketing ploy.
The press release is just as terrible. It starts:
Café Culture, a decadent coffee styled wine, which challenges the settled ways of the status quo, is no stranger to asserting its stamp of uniqueness.
And in keeping with this penchant for innovation, the brand is proudly introducing a new delectable sparkling wine – Café Culture Choc Mousse.
What a load of codswallop. Assuming the status quo is not having a carbonated chocolate/coffee pinotage, the challenge here is the equivalent of farting in an elevator. I guess they are allowed to be proud, but to call this wine delectable is almost grounds to report KWV to the ASA.
The PR waffle goes on, saying that the wine
. . . offers a choice for people who enjoy expressing their individual taste, rather than conforming to society’s pre-requisites
What? A choice? How does the choice between all the wine in the world, and the single – hopefully only – sparkling chocolate Pinotage have anything to do with individual taste? Surely the sentence should read:
The wine offers a choice for people who enjoy expressing their complete lack of taste, judgement and sensibility to the world…
They could have at least written some amusing PR. It beggars belief to see this wine in existence, but strike me down with a jeroboam, it’s even more unbelievable that it is taken seriously. Why not:
Cafe Culture, the wine that thumbs its nose to the rest of the wine elite, brings you a Pinotage sparkler for the people, a wine that’s as sweet and simple as the girl next door. Who doesn’t like chocolate? Who doesn’t like fizz? Using the advanced marketing technology known to insiders as ‘synergy’, KWV has produced a combination of both that will make your mouth tingle, and your wine snob uncle cry. Choc Mousse may be the most ridiculous wine on the market, and we know South Africans love a bottle of ridiculousness.
Whatever. The wine’s kak. Don’t drink it.If you get the urge drop me a mail and I will happily advise you on how to spend your money on wine more in a way that won’t rot your teeth and gut. If you really want to taste a sparkling red wine, go and find the Camberley version, it has been made with integrity at least.
On that note, I am done with Chocolate Pinotages. I retire my ranting hat on this subject.
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