Hipsters get way too much credit these days. I don’t mean that in a good way. Hipsters – especially those of a South African persuasion – deserve all the deep-seated hatred that comes their way. What I mean is that they are credited with far more social traction than they actually possess. They just aren’t that big of a deal. I’m far more forgiving of emos than I am of hipsters.
Drugs are great. Don’t listen to those naysayers who offer hugs instead. Silly. Whoever heard of a hug that produced art, ideas, conversation and discovery? Some may have led to sex, sure, but then I reckon ecstasy wins on that count. Of course, drugs kill people and ruin lives. So do guns, politicians, earthquakes, religion, airline food, ignorance, baseball-bats, well timed punches, badly timed racing drivers, and a host of animals. But none of these things gives us the sheer pleasure while hastening our demise that drugs do. Wine is my drug of choice.
There isn’t much right with South Africa’s roads. Take the Jan Smuts Avenue, for instance. It snakes through the heart of Johannesburg from Parktown on the very edge of town, to the dusty wastelands of the godforsaken and heathen Randburg in the north. Along the way, it passes through important suburban locations like Hyde Park, Craighall, and my doorstep.
Every now and again I’ll post a column on a certain word that wine people – myself included – use to describe wines that can be slightly troubling. I am going to try and make it a little bit clearer as to how the word is being used in reference to wine. Because as much fun as it is pairing wine with death, one must try to be of some use. Slight disclaimer: This is a column that imagines its readers enjoy thinking about wine a little. If you are happy with the “Ja, not battery acid I’ll drink it. Fuck that it’ll kill you” approach to drinking wine, this may annoy you.
Since the shoes go on the feet, it’s easy to ignore them. To think you can get by with a good shirt and jacket while leaving your shoes to the mercy of poor taste is not ok. I suspect this is why Gregory House said that shoes never lie.
Changing a tyre involves more swearing, cursing and scraped knuckles than a bar fight between 500 drunken racehorse owners. It’s something that one day we will all have to face. So you’d think car makers would make it easy. You’d be wrong. Very wrong.
There is so much drama in the SA wine industry at the moment, what with caffeine conundrums, and now a damning (albeit one-sided) report from Human Rights Watch that Western Cape fruit farmers are treating their workers like it’s the 1860s. I thought I would steer completely clear of such depressing matters and uplift the wine drinking nation with some sound advice as to what wine to open when faced with certain situations in your life.
I don’t know about you, but I was deeply disappointed at how the South African Municipal Workers (Samwu) march panned out in Johannesburg. Especially after the hilarity that had ensued in Cape Town and Durban. But wait! Not all is lost, union bosses! You can still get 18% – you just have to be a bit creative about your protest marches!
I’d really hoped that coffee-tasting wines had been put to bed in this column. I had had my rant and the comments were made; I had purged myself from the nastiness, hoping never again to have to speak of these wines here. But it reared its vile little head recently when I read that caffeine had been found in one of the coffee styled Pinotages. I diluted my Chianti Classico with bitter tears, as I knew once again I would write something.
As I stood there, mouth slightly ajar, listening to Bittereinder spew out lyrics of defiance and love at Oppikoppi, it suddenly hit me that what I truly loved about this eccentric band was its fearsome Afrikaans-ness. This was an unapologetic and proud Afrikaans band. What’s more, Bittereinder aren’t idiotic about it. They’re angry without being bitter, and they are proud without being supremacist about it. You don’t get that very often. And it got me thinking about the “roots” of the band that followed.
They’re a generous lot, Mr Daniel’s henchmen, and over the next few weeks they’ll be running a competition where you can win a brand new, customised 2011 Ford Mustang GT500 Shelby. We’ll break that down in just a moment. The good news is, I’ve just driven the thing. And it is marvelous.
This year was my first Oppikoppi. I went as press, but I had a lot of fun. I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all these years. I know you’re dying to know, so these were the best performances that I saw: Bittereinder, Michelle Shocked, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Not My Dog, and Mr Cat and the Jackal.
I think it’s incredibly easy to forget that we are living through one of the great technological revolutions in human history. And the car is of course well and truly part of that revolution. Yesterday I sampled what might be one of the most advanced cars on the road today, and to be honest, I’m not sold.
Forget history lessons, interesting facts, supermarket choices, hints of vanilla, toasted oak or residual sugar;. Let’s be honest, for most people the only reason they want to learn anything about wine – past the operation of a corkscrew – is so they don’t look like a tit.
What I love most about touring car championships is that they germinated the idea of the basic pocket rocket in the public mind. Think of the glory days of British touring car championships – would they have been the same without the plucky Mark II Mini bouncing about the track, holding its own against magnificent Jaguars and brutal American Ford Mustangs? Would our idea of a fun hatchback be the same if it wasn’t for touring car championships?
One of the reasons I love driving cars from all over the world is that I wrongly or rightly approach the vehicle with the stereotype of the people who made it clouding my judgement. It’s fun. And with the French, there is a veritable cheese platter of character traits from which to choose.
Last week I told you a bit about Champagne’s history, and left you at around the 16th/17th century. I was going to try and take you all the way up to the present in this column. I then realised that this would not be possible in 100 words. So I shelved the pot-holed history of [...]
So I was in Cape Town the other week. Nice bit of South Africa, that. I take much pleasure in pissing Cape Town off (it’s not like you’re not asking for it, though, the way you lot dress), but honestly, it’s a delightful bit of real estate. The year I spent there in 2007 was [...]
Bakkies might be sneakily becoming the new SUVs of our day. They come under a lot less GreenPeace-fire than big luxury 4x4s, and rightly so. They’ve got great diesel engines which are not only powerful but incredibly frugal to boot, and because the load bay is lined with melted rubber instead of the wool of rare sheep, you don’t mind getting it a bit dirty. I just can’t decide if this is a good thing.
I love bubbly. I can drink it first thing in the morning, just before I sleep, and at every intervening moment. Its racy freshness and cleansing bubbles inspire celebration, comfort the sad and refresh the weary. I have another name for Champagne: joie de vivre.
When the internet came along, and it spawned thousands of well-moneyed industries, the writers naturally followed. Tech journalists. Bloggers. Et cetera. These days, normal people do most of their reading on some sort of screen. Writing for online is huge. But it has its own, annoying memes that I wish would end. It’s like a never-ending insider joke and is a bit unimaginative.
I was chatting about this with a good acquaintance last night who used to own a Mercedes AMG, and had since toned his taste down a bit because he had had a massive crash and didn’t want to own fast cars anymore. He said he’d kill himself yadda yadda. That logic is ridiculous, and I told him so.
At dinner the other night I was paging through a rather limpid looking wine list. Safe wines, boring wines; not one of which inspired in me even a trace of “Wahoo!” I saw one from a producer I have enjoyed before – a Shiraz that I thought may offer something of interest. Boy, was I wrong. It was as interesting as watching paint dry on a black and white television, showing curling. The reason for it’s complete drabness was that it had fallen into the trap that many South African reds are succumbing to. The wine maker was forcing the wine to strongly exhibit flavours and aromas of coffee and chocolate.
At the risk of sounding like a complete kill-joy, I just need to clear this up. I don’t mind a quick flurry on a console every once in a while, but I just can’t stand it when it’s referred to as driving or driving simulation. It’s like saying a war game is war simulation. I imagine if you asked anybody who’s actually been in a war what they think of Call of Duty 4, they will tell you to politely sod off. I imagine if you ask a racing driver what he thinks of Need For Speed 13, he will say the same thing.
As a stormers fan, one can hardly be upset by last Saturday’s shellacking at The hands of New Zealand’s finest. For starters they were so vastly superior in every facet of the game that you could hardly hold it against them. They played rugby that was a joy to watch, they were infinitely more physical than us and they had an ingredient in spade loads that we seemed to lack, that is that “they started with the why”.
One of the things that makes wine stand out in the world of beverages is its ability to age and develop. It is a miraculous thing, tasting something older than you are (frustratingly, this gets more difficulty and expensive as you shuffle along the mortal coil). To taste a living thing formed by the elements [...]
You know how this one goes, right? There is a house in Orange Grove. They call it The Radium… The Radium is reputedly the oldest surviving beer hall and grill in Johannesburg, and unlike places like The Brazen Head, it genuinely has that aged feel. The chairs and tables creak ominously under the weight of the patrons and the food. The pavement outside is littered with ash and the odd beggar. The only things they seem to have added in the last 20 years are a stainless steel urinal and the big TVs. It is exactly my type of place to hang out.
Like a hipster to a Sunday clothing market at an art-house cinema, many, many car enthusiasts are drawn to the vintage car market. It’s a wonderful place. Searching for that rare MG convertible, finding an example that still goes and stops without endangering your life, and taking it home to care for it and love it for the rest of your days is… The worst idea you will ever have. And I’ll tell you why. Vintage cars are shit.
In last week’s column I asked what kind of wine content you would like to see me write about. The comment that popped up more than most was about supermarkets, that is, how to deal with a wall of wines, all staring at you from the shelf. Which to buy? How do I know I won’t end up with battery acid? Oh god, the decisions. Too. Many. Wines. Fuck it, I’ll just get that coffee-flavoured Pinotage. Well, you are not alone.