What You Will Need
Learning the art of pairing food and wine can be exceptionally tricky. If you are a complete novice, you may want to start out slowly with only a few pairings. But if you are a more seasoned wine taster, try experimenting a little with your food and wine combinations. Remember that it's all about finding balance between the sweet, salty, tangy and acidic flavours, as well as the tannins in the wine.
It's important that you balance the weight of the wine and the food you are pairing it with. No, this doesn't mean getting out your kitchen scale. Weight is the way the wine coats the inside of your mouth, whether it's light and fleeting or heavy and lingering. The general rule of thumb is that if you are eating something sweet, pair it with a sweet wine. Salty flavours and rich foods on the other hand pair better with full bodied reds.
Pairing wines with cheese is an art of sorts. Bold, pungent cheeses can be incredibly difficult to balance out. To help you navigate this minefield of tastes, we've scoured our resources for the most commonly paired wines and cheeses. Check out this comprehensive list by Top Wine SA to get on the right track. Once you've got an idea of the wines and cheeses you would like to pair together, you can begin setting up your wine tasting evening. Our personal choice would be a selection of hard and soft cheeses and a variety of white wines to pair them with, but it's totally up to you.
Where To Get It
You don't want to invite your friends to a virtual box wine and mouldy Gouda tasting, so it's best to prepare in advance. Thankfully under level 3 lockdown, we are allowed to purchase alcohol again, so either head out to the bottle store (mask on, please) or get shopping online. We recommend the Good Wine Shop for premium Cape wines at affordable prices. It may take a few weeks for your order to arrive, so best not schedule your wine pairing evening before you have your stock on hand. Of course if you simply can't wait to have a wine tasting season, you can order good quality wines from Takealot.com.
Now, for the cheese. You shouldn't have to go too far to find a few good cheeses (Checkers, anyone?), but if you really want to go all out, check out these top Italian delis in the city. Most of these delis should be operating in level 3 lockdown, so you can pop in for a quick look around and some helpful advice. Pick up a few packets of crunchy crackers or crisp white bread while you're out and you'll be set for a fabulous tasting.
Learn More About Wine
There are wine lovers and there are wine lovers. If you fall into the latter category, you may want to spend some time this winter getting more clued up about your favourite tipple. There are many online courses you can do in between work and those epic Netflix binge runs. Sign up for one or two to keep entertained and well informed about your wines. You never know, you may just catapult yourself into a brand-new career as a sommelier. Here are three of the best online wine courses you can sign up for this winter:
Tops at Spar
The Tops at Spar Wine Show was unfortunately cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, Tops has since introduced two online courses that you can take free of charge. Hosted by acclaimed wine educator, Cathy Marston, these courses cover all the basics of wine tasting in a fun and interactive way. Each session includes 30 minutes of theory, followed by an interactive practical 15 minute tasting session to get you swirling, sniffing and sipping your way through your wine collection!
New course dates are expected to be announced soon. Sign up here to avoid missing out.
Wines of South Africa
If you simply can't get enough of Cathy, sign up for the Wines of South Africa online wine course. This six module course is slightly more intense and studious, offering you a certificate of completion at the end of the course. You must score at least 80% on each module to pass, but you can go back and retake the module if you don't get it right the first time round. The course material is downloadable and it should only take an hour or two to complete each module, so you can easily fit it into your schedule.
Cape Wine Academy
For those of you seriously looking to get into the wine business, check out the Cape Wine Academy's online course packages. They offer both short courses and certificate wine courses, so whether you're simply interested in learning about wine for personal pleasure or for career opportunities, there should be a course for you. The Cape Wine Academy offers evening classes and one-day weekend classes to suit your schedule.
Find out more about the Cape Wine Academy's 2020 course offerings here.
Happy wine tasting!