*Disclaimer: This post was written during Level-2 lockdown restrictions (yes, many moons ago).
As the country slowly eases up lock-down restrictions and industries continue to open up under strict precautions, wine farms remain under heavy restriction just weeks after the ban on selling and buying alcohol was lifted. After President Ramaphosa’s shocking reveal on Sunday announcing the immediate nationwide suspension of buying, selling and distribution of alcohol, I could not help but think of the ways in which I could improve my wine tasting experience in anticipation of the day we are allowed to not only consume alcohol, but also return to restaurants and the varying tourism and hospitality establishments.
There is so much that hosts can do when conducting wine tastings to better educate guests about wine, and the manner in which these tasting sessions are conducted can be good or bad. With that being said, the overarching fact remains that by the time you leave a tasting or wine farm, it should be with a happy throat.
In case you are wondering what makes for the perfect wine tasting experience, here are a few pre-emptive tips:
Prepare beforehand – I know a lot of us like the convenience of simply showing up and walking in without the adulthood hassle of scheduling or booking a time slot but wine farms receive a lot of visitors and guests; some to a point where they’ve even had to introduce a waiting list. So if you were thinking of just “popping in”, I am sorry to disappoint but you will not be taken seriously. Booking ahead of time is essential.
Punctuality – African time will cost you your spot! Oftentimes we make the mistake of thinking that everyone will understand and accommodate our tardiness but a promise, or reservation, not kept is an reservation missed. While everything is still on hold, I suggest you decide on the desired wine farm you wish to visit and book your spot. And when you finally do have the opportunity to enjoy your wine tasting, please be on time!
No wine knowledge? No problem! It takes time to learn and ultimately understand viticulture and the jargon that comes with it, but don’t sweat yourself. Your first wine tasting is about immersing yourself in the ambiance; enjoying the people and the wine. Listen – follow instructions and take your time in remembering key words and descriptors. Take a small journal if you are really invested in learning so you can revisit and re-educate yourself in your own. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, the hosts are there for you to glean as much knowledge from them so make sure you pounce on the opportunity to better inform yourself.
Your host is your friend- There is no one who will take better care of you on a wine farm for than your wine tasting host or guide. As such, please practice common courtesy and be polite at all times – more importantly, TIP them!! Most of the personnel working on wine farms have to travel far, squeeze in dozens of clients and still ensure each and every one of you receive the best service and hospitality. So play nice!
Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, please make sure you travel with a driver! You will be under the influence and you don’t want to cause problems for yourself and put others in danger all because you weren’t DRINKING RESPONSIBLY.
And that, beautiful people, is the galaxy’s guide to surviving your first (or fourth?) wine tasting!
Disclaimer: According to government regulations all alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers are legally required to close their warehouses and other branches. With most wine farms, you are still able to place orders online, but those will only be dispatched once regulations have change.
Orders will then be prioritised according to the date on which they were placed and paid.