[imagesource: Anthonij Rupert Wine]
Wine tasting in South Africa is usually a relatively chilled affair, and so it should be.
But that doesn’t mean etiquette can be thrown out the window.
Getting a grip of winery and tasting room etiquette can actually enhance your experience, as you perfect the art of enjoying wine at some of the finest drinking establishments in the country.
Just don’t ask for the “good stuff” unless you’re willing to be eyed as a rookie or otherwise fine with buying over and above your budget.
Food&Wine has listed a set of rules for “How to Behave at a Winery, According to the Professionals”. It puts mindfulness, common courtesy, and overall fun at the forefront of your swigging.
Let’s take a look at some of the golden rules for your next wine tasting adventure:
1. Respect the Reservation
Despite how President Cyril Ramaphosa just relaxed the rules and restrictions with regards to COVID-19, it is still best to keep the crowds to a minimum.
Wine director Tonya Pitts advises that because wineries are likely trying to avoid overcrowding in order to offer the safest and most seamless experience, making and honouring a reservation is the right thing to do.
Estates such as Anthonij Rupert Wine Estate prefer a little more commitment from their patrons, offering most experiences by appointment only.
Tasting the Cape of Good Hope, Anthonij Rupert, and L’Ormarins ranges requires a good slice of time, especially since it is offered in an informative, interactive style while allowing plenty of time for relaxation and soaking up the beautiful scenery.
In fact, there are numerous activities to choose from at this stunning spot in the Franschhoek Winelands, which you can explore at your leisure.
2. Quality over quantity
“Visiting a winery is all about quality over quantity,” says Gabriella Macari, general manager for her family’s North Fork winery, Macari Vineyards.
In many cases, she adds, guests have access to wines that are either exclusive to the winery or not readily available at retail — certainly things to be enjoyed and experienced, as is wine in general, but staying aware of one’s consumption is key in doing so.
The same goes for your wine tasting itinerary.
Rushing from one wine farm to the next can be exhausting, which leads us to:
3. Pace yourself
Macari advises that rather than bouncing about, “pick one to two wineries per day, and allow yourself time to enjoy the scenery and a glass or bottle after your tasting”.
Likewise, Lauren Hoey, head sommelier at Hawksmoor in NYC, added another tip to help you stay ahead of your wine consumption: “At any tasting, make sure you’re hydrated and nourished.”
As in, take advantage of the water jugs and breadsticks/crackers provided so that you can remember what you’re learning and walk away that much wiser.
Otherwise, you can also enjoy a tasting along with some delicious snacks designed to enhance the flavours of the wine, such as L’Ormarins Cap Classique & Nougat flight, which includes three Cap Classique wines paired with three bespoke artisanal nougats for just R95.
4. Pack away the perfume
Unfortunately, scents can ruin the tasting experience for everyone within nose-shot because smelling is integral to wine tasting.
For that reason, you would be better off without a spritz of cologne or perfume for the day.
5. Show your support
Macari also reckons you should buy the wines you enjoyed the most or sign up for the wine club, which often offers lavish perks.
Anthonij Rupert Wine offers a seat at a stellar wine club stacked with notable benefits for members, including complimentary wine tasting, special offers, regular discounts, as well as invitations to the exciting seasonal wine club events.
Read all about here.
As for that rule about asking for the “good stuff”, Wine Enthusiast says you can do something of the sort by inquiring whether there are any library or reserve wines open beyond the advertised flight.
The only thing is, special requests will likely increase the pressure to purchase wine, so bear that in mind.
All things considered, you should be well on your way to being a semi-professional wine taster.
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