Doing Wine Your Way | #SpierMyWay

I’ve come to realize that for a country the produces some of the world’s best wine, there isn’t much of a wine culture outside of the Western Cape. The only time most people enjoy wine is at home or when they’re eating out. We definitely do consume lots of it: wine is the second highest consumed beverage in the country, just after beer; So why isn’t there a widespread wine culture in the country? I’m talking wine tastings, events and bars, or even champagne bars whose focus is actually champagne. I know there are various wine festivals that take place here and there but how inclusive are they? (Shout out to Soweto Food and Wine Festival)

Anyway, getting into the gist of this post. I’ll be covering some of the jargon commonly used in the wine community. I’ll also add a food/wine pairing guide in the latter part that is based on some research and experimenting that I’ve been doing with the help of Spier Wines. So most of the tasting notes are based on Spier Wines.


Varietal also called cultivars, refers to a wine made from a single grape as opposed to a blend which is made from a blend of varietals. There are different kinds of varietals.

Acidity refers to the crisp character of a wine. If you’ve experienced the difference between a certain, notorious, boxed wine and a more premium wine, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Mouthfeel refers to the sensation in your mouth during wine tasting. A wine may be velvety, silky, smooth, etc.

Finish is generally used to describe the sensation after wine tasting. It may be complex, persistent, lingering or long. The more time the flavor persists in your mouth the more complex the wine is. We’ll cover that later.

Tannin is released from the barrels, the skin, seeds, and stem of the grape as they soak in the juices of the pressed grapes. It adds character and complexity to the wine. Thats where the bitterness of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc comes from. It works similar to keeping a teabag in a cup of tea; the ‘fuzziness’ in your mouth is caused by the tannins.

Complexity usually speaks the various elements that make up the character of a wine. So this would be the texture, acidity, finish, etc. of the wine. So the more descriptions you can give of the taste, the more more complex the wine is.

I wanted to have 6 but for ambiance, we’ll throw it one more: Botrytis. This is a grey mould that when it grows on certain grapes, it leaves the grapes raisin-like thus giving the final product a more concentrated sweetness and flavor. To be honest, it’s essentially rot on your grapes that ends up making the wine sweet. If you’ve had a “late harvest” wine, now you know what makes it sweet.

Food pairing

White wines

Sauvignon blanc is characterised by aromas of gooseberries, passion fruit, green and yellow peppers and hints of tropical fruit on the nose. It is medium-bodied, and strikes a good balance between fruitiness and acidity.

Food pairing: Enjoy with seafood or white meat.


Chenin Blanc is one of the most popular white varietals in South Africa. The Chenin Blanc is both crisp and fruity, with green guava, pear, apple and hints of litchi on the nose.

Food pairing: Smoked haddock or white fish in a creamy sauce. Green vegetables, such as green beans also pair up well with Chenin.


Chardonnay is made in two styles – wooded or unwooded. Unwooded chardonnay generally has rich, ripe, tropical flavours, and lingering oaky aftertaste. Wooded chardonnay has stronger flavours, with a bit of vanilla and smokiness on the nose.

Food pairing: Pasta and basil pesto, roast chicken or chicken in a creamy sauce, or salmon.


Sémillon is largely popular in Australia and France, and is used to make both dry and sweet white wines. In South Africa, it is usually found in blends, often with sauvignon blanc. The Creative Block 2 from Spier is a good example.

Food pairing: Most fish and shellfish and It’s apparently also delicious with roast turkey and pork.

Red Wines


Pinotage is one the leading varietals at Spier and is also considered a South African Classic.  This is a 100% South African wine which was made by a professor in 1925. After his death, his colleagues found it growing in his backyard, and now it is found all over the world. It is generously laden with red berry fruit and soft tannins.

Food pairing: Its best served with light red meat dishes like pork medallions, seared steak or grilled lamb with rosemary seasoning.


Cabernet Sauvignon is characterized by soft tannins and ripe fruit, cherries and oak spice.

Food pairing: Enjoy with simply prepared cuts of lamb, beef, antelope or duck


Merlot gives you ripe red and black berries, plums and an undertow of eucalyptus and mint.

Food pairing: Roast lamb or beef stews. Also try fish like salmon and tuna and mushroom-based dishes or grilled chicken or pork with garlic, and pastas with basil pesto.

One of the things I love the most about my blog is that I can write and post whatever I want, however I want. I can drop a “lol” here and a “it’s a lot mate” there, the freedom is somewhat unparalleled.

So as much as this post provides a basic 411 on wine, it remains just that, a guide. If you feel like you taste/smell something either than what I’ve mentioned above, you’re not wrong. If you feel like having some Chardonnay with your popcorn or, like I saw the day, pairing sparkling wine with a kota, knock yourself out. Do it your way. This is simply a product of research and experiment. The most important thing is that you enjoy your wine and hopefully learn something you previously didn’t know.

So here’s the icing on the cake: Spier Wines and I are giving two of my readers a chance to each win a Spier hamper which includes a case of wine. You simply enter by scrolling to the comment section below, and telling me what your favorite wine is, how you enjoy it, and what you love pairing it with it. Once thats done, follow me on Instagram and Twitter to complete your entry!

Looking forward to reading all your stories!

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  1. Merlot, the family usually pairs it with rosemary and garlic roast leg of lamb but I have it with mushroom pasta since I don’t eat red meat *shrugs*.

  2. Hi Lerato here

    Personally I’ve always been a more cocktail girl (party life lol) but the more I started attending intimate events is when I got introduced to wine and loved it from the get go. Initially I started off with the Rosé and moved into the Red wine and then started exploring with white wine, sceptical at first but enjoyed it. My favourite white wine is the Sauvignon Blanc as personally for my palette feels smooth and sweet and funny,my friend and I enjoyed it most with Sweet Chilli Doritos and cherry hubbly on a Sunday afternoon at the park and somehow those flavours all made sense lol. I’ve had Spier before (a gift from my cousins girlfriend) and enjoyed it highly and would love to continue to explore more often. I loooove wine its my go-to for anything and really sets your mood and besides it’s good for the heart , any excuse to drink it every week :).

  3. I’m new to this wine experience/culture. I usually just drink the wine as is.

    But when I’m hosting, I would serve chicken fillets stuffed with mushrooms and a Chardonnay

  4. I like my chardonnay, you can never go wrong with a bottle of chard. Pairing it with a nice pasta dish too, as I am a pasta guy myself, I also try a variety of pasta dishes I make along with a chardonnay, so having a nice bottle lying around is always an added advantage.

  5. I just love drinking it I’d be lying if I said I pair it with anything hahaha I just want to drink it. Don’t particularly have a specific brand of wine I like/love I do though have a tastebud for a good pinotage… Now I’m going to follow you because I want to win[e]

  6. I love love my Merlot when I pair it with a nice pasta and tuna dish not forgetting a little extra parmesan goes a long.I also love Merlot with my fav snacks…chocolate and olives.mmm drooling already.

  7. Loved the post and pictures… I’m torn between, Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb and Sauvignon blanc with chocolate.

  8. My Favourite Wine Is Pinotage. It Plays A Major Role For Setting The Mood For Those Romantic Days With My Hun, Always Enjoy It At Room Temperature. I Usually Pair It With Hearty Meals Like A Lamb Casserole Or Lamb Shanks.

  9. Gladly am an open minded person perhaps because am still a varsity student(I mean where would i get the right to be choosy) however I prefer it sweet…be it red or white…normally have it on a social gathering with new people,friends and family over a BBQ

  10. My Fav from the spier family is the Signature Chardonnay/Pinot Noir

    This specific wine takes me back to Christmas weekend 2016. Where my cousins and I paired it with Roasted Chicken, Creamy Pasta with Mushrooms and tons of salads.

    You can never go wrong with Spier Wine, good company and Chicken.

  11. Being a wine enthusiast and a wine blogger I’ve tasted a lot of great white wines as well Spier wines I’ve come to notice that My favorite wine is the Chenin Blanc from the Spier wine farm. love how light the body of the wine is and how crisp and bright it is when it enters your mouth. The aromas have been thought out so well and they compliment the taste too, this was actually one of the wines I drank when I was training my nose cause of the bouquet was incredible. My favorite is how the oakiness surprises you. I love how spier wines has so much variety and how every bottle looks and tastes different. Visiting The Spier Wine Farm is definitely at the top of my bucket list and I can’t wait to do so. I enjoy this wine alone but when I pair it it goes superbly with Asian food . check out my blog (

  12. I’ve always been a lover of white wine but I’ve recently discovered Pinot Noir and I can gladly say that my palette has never been the same. I shyed away from red wines because most were too rich for my liking but Pinot Noir ticks all the right boxes, the perfect blend between rich and light, and can be paired with anything from seafood to desserts. I love pairing it with rich desserts like malva pudding for a good balance of sweetness and bitterness,a sweet and sour pizza on a night in works just as great too

  13. I’m a Pinotage man enjoyed with a medium-bodied cigar. When I’m having a seafood pasta, love to pair that with a Chardonnay.

  14. Hello,

    *Cries in I have too many favourites * but I’ll have to hand it over to The King of Reds Cabernet Sauvignon . Very affordable, & worth every cent. Its dark fruit flavours with a touch of bell pepper has the perfect balance of spices & fruit.

    What do I pair it with? Frozen black cherry (or grapes ) to give it a bit of chill, but in terms of food? A hearty rich plate of mom’s port wine braised short ribs , it balances out the flavour profile. The wine doesn’t conceal out the flavours, if anything, it brings the juiciness of the ribs out to play.

    Unimportant side note: This would be a very nice birthday win :’).

  15. Wine simply describes me as a person so beautifully,to the point where I felt that anyone who would try make me part ways with wine will be one I part ways with, that’s how much I live it. I’m more of a sweet wine and blends lady, but when I had a glass of chenin blanc as it’s both crisp and fruity and Sauvignon blanc of course I knew I found new friends. I actually enjoy chenin black with a well prepared dish of lemon chicken or some chicken a la king. I love pasta so Chardonnay is the best way to go with some chicken Alfredo pasta, baked meat pasta and my favourite beef lasagne. I’m a person who enjoys cooking and love wine so I’ve become an asset to myself because of my interests and hobbies,thus pairing a lovely dish with a beautiful glass of wine is my idea of fun and fine dining. I’m a seafood fanatic, that’s where Sauvignon blanc comes in, it’s one of the best to pair with seafood. A fine combination I think every wine and seafood lover should try is seafood Paella and a glass of Sauvignon blanc,you’ll never be disappointed. 🙂

  16. It’s impossible for me to choose one, but these 3 are wines I believe work well for dinner, after a long day at work or even to take along to a braai: Spier’s 21 Gables Chenin Blanc, Springfield’s Miss Lucy (an interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Pinot Gris) and Zandvliet’s 2016 Chardonnay.

    The 21 Gables is great for sharing with friends and goes really well with asian-inspired tapas which are my favourite thing to eat right now. I’ve recently become a huge fan of white wine and I always thought that it was best for the warmer months but have found that there are many options available that can be just as comforting as a glass of Shiraz in the cooler months.

  17. A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon served at room temperature accompanied by a rare to medium done piece of steak is the closest thing to heaven for me .

  18. A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon served at room temperature accompanied by a rare to medium done piece of steak is the closest thing to heaven for me .

  19. Lol. I risk sounding like an alcoholic here but I’m a big fan of Spier’s Cabernet Sauvignon all day everyday. No like literally…give it to me anytime of the day and I’m down for a generous glass full. It’s too good to pass up. Their Merlot isn’t too bad either-has a bit of a bite when it comes to the taste buds but I love it nonetheless:).

  20. Ooh. I love red wine. I started off strictly drinking cab sav, then graduated to merlot, occasionally sipping on Shiraz. Then I exclusively drank Pinotage because it’s proudly South African.

    Now, I find that my go to wine is a blend, and then a pinotage or merlot if there aren’t any blends on the menu.

    When I shop, it’s a problem. So many choices, and so little knowledge. So I stick to wines with chocolate in their name like Woolies’ chocolate Shiraz or coffee. And when I’m feeling flush, I love Ruperts and Rothschild.

    I am not a huge fan of whites, and absolutely hate rose (I used to down rise when I was 21 to the song Roxanne). However, I am loving GB’s Gorgeous – I think it’s a Pinot noir but it’s pink. Haha.

    Bubbles give me life! Anything with MCC in its description, and I am there. I don’t really drink any champagne because I want to make SA bubbles great and well, they can’t be great if we aren’t supporting them and championing them. Plus I can buy more bottles of MCC for the price of one Veuve. Prosecco is cool but MCC has my heart – GB, La Lude and Krone top my list.

  21. For me, wine is a companion that can be enjoyed with any meal. Mixing and matching different wines to dishes is an enjoyable pastime because there’s honestly is no limits to the combinations of flavours, textures and enjoyment one can experience when pairing a wine with a great dish. Being winter, hearty foods and red wine is the definite answer to beat the cold. A slow roast lamb with a glass of pinotage is a classic love pair for me 🙂 but my favourite affair would have to be smoked or fresh salmon rainbow rolls or Nigiri with a crisp glass of Sauvignon blanc. It’s crispy fruitness has a way of carrying you through the fish without overbearing the fresh ingredients but at the same time highlighting the different components of the dish and complimenting it with it’s fruity and tropical flavours. Alternatively a glass of Chardonnay could get the job done too.

  22. Aaaahh the Spier Creative Block 2 (sauvignon blanc) paired with passion fruit and cardamom white chocolate.

    That there is a stellar pairing.

  23. Recently had a Merlot paired with Roasted pork chop made by my friend. It was my first time having such, loved it throughly. Regardless, I am a fan of red wine and anything bubbly. Along with good company, it goes down well!

  24. I am a red wine fan enthusiast. However, when it comes to white wines, I enjoy chardonnay. Especially when it’s chilled. Take your white grapes, wash them up and freeze them. Have your chardonnay with them. It keeps the wine chilled but also the grapes are so delicious at the end. Unlike using ice cubes where you end up diluting the wine.

  25. My favourite white wines are an unwooded Chardonnay with a creamy salmon pasta or a freshly tossed Texas Chicken salad ; the wooded Chardonnay is great with some muscles and prawns and some fresh garlic bread straight from the oven . Merlot goes down with a warm oxtail dish either with some couscous or traditional Setswana teng: the richness in the wine and the tender oxtail meat slipping off the bone with the sourness of the teng is like fairies dancing on my palette.

  26. I sit in a deemed light room with a block of cheese on a side plate with my laptop; I then pour a glass of wine and let it sit for a moment while it’s exposed to the room temperature and air as it produces mellow and pleasant taste. I use a fine wine glass with a thin body just to make sure I can see the quality and when I can devour it, I then swirl the wine in the glass while
    Inhaling the smell just to make sure it has set probably. I then take a sip of the wine and develop the palate. The cheese comes in right after just to restore my taste buds and establish how the wine really is. Then I write a poem piece just to keep my thoughts and emotions intact with a nibble on white chocolate just to balance between dry savoury and sweet taste while panning down ideas and describing my experience to my readers.

  27. Pinotage has to be my favourite wine. Not only is it a proudly South African wine that’s leading in Spier’s production but it goes well with any of my steaks- sirloin which is my favourite and definitely with my lamb chops which are seasonsed with rosemary and put on the braai.

    This wine is definitely a classic for me because it is really smooth on the tongue and has a beautiful smoky essence to it.

    I’ve been a supporter of Spier since I legally started drinking wine, winning this case from them would affirm my years of support.
    Twitter handle: @peexs
    Instagram: @panda_peex

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