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Which Wines To Drink With Your Traditional Festive Celebrations

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The Festive Season is upon us and excitement is building as people start to prepare for long sunny holiday days and warm nights spent relaxing with friends and family. This time of year is synonymous with indulging in delicious food and drink – and South Africans love both.

Although not everyone observes Christmas, the end of another year and the impending arrival of a fresh new one, with all its opportunities, usually has most people gathering to celebrate! Our country is rich with a variety of cultures – all with their own special celebratory foods. Whether it is the evocative smells of a braai or shisa nyama, a delicious curry, pap with chakalaka, a spicy bobotie, snoek pate with roosterkoek – the list of traditional South African dishes that will be tucked into over the next month or so is extensive and with family and friends set to get together all around South Africa, Groot Constantia Wine Estate has put together some special wine pairing recommendations to go with your South African meal.

Start on a bubbly note

No celebration is really complete without some bubbles to toast the occasion, and an easy drinking Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wine – South Africa’s very own version of the French “champagne” (cheers to being proudly South African) – is definitely the way to kick off your Festive get-together.

Boela Gerber, winemaker for Groot Constantia, explains that Groot Constantia’s Methode Cap Classique Brut Rosé is a light pink colour with ripe tropical fruity flavours that pairs beautifully with fish – making this the perfect accompaniment with a starter platter of snoek pate canapés.

Fire things up

Warm evenings are an invitation to light the braai fires and if you are planning to light up yours – or perhaps you refer to it in your culture as shisa nyama – then there are many great wine options to enjoy with that delicious char-grilled meat.

Red meat and red wine go together like peas and carrots

“When red meat is on the menu for your braai a good wine choice is a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon – both full-bodied wines that pair incredibly well with lamb chops or beef steak,” says Gerber.

White wines hold their own against the heat

If you are planning on popping some chicken on the fire – perhaps a spatchcock, sosaties or Umleqwa (free range chicken) – then a Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal wine pairing option. It goes great with potato salad too. “And for those that opt for less meat on the braai, a Chardonnay goes beautifully with braaied mealies. And my personal favourite – a Weskus mussel pot is perfectly washed down with a chilled glass of Groot Constantia Chardonnay!” says Gerber.

Lets step away from the fire for a while

Not everyone thinks of a braai fire when it comes to their celebratory foods and if you are planning on cooking up a delicious spicy bobotie or perhaps a time-honored curry then Groot Constantia recommend an easy drinking red blend which pairs beautifully with the sweet, spicy and fragrant flavours of these dishes.

“Many people think that you can’t pair wine with curry but that is not true, and you won’t go wrong with the Groot Constantia Lady of Abundance,” says Gerber. “The newest wine to join the stable of varietals produced by the Estate, this special red blend is made up from Pinotage, Shiraz, and Merlot.”

More unusual wine pairings

Groot Constantia explain that when it comes to traditional foods such as samp and beans (Umngqusho), pap with sheba or smoorsnoek there are not really any officially recognised wines to pair with such dishes but Gerber gives his opinion based on his many years of experience. “It also depends on what you enjoy personally, and I always recommend that you experiment until you find the combination that works for you.”

Smoorsnoek is made with smoked or fresh snoek, potatoes, onions and spices. Traditionally served on rice with a slice of farm bread and jam. “If you are looking for the perfect wine to complement this dish then look no further than a white blend such as the Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was created to pair perfectly with any fish dish.”

“A glass of Merlot with its red fruit flavours is a great companion for starchy dishes as well as meats. This makes it a great choice to pair with your pap and sheba. It will also definitely compliment a cheesy braai broodjie or a potato bake.”

“Samp and Beans is vegetable based so a chilled Rosé wine is a wonderful choice to accompany this dish on a warm Spring day,” says Gerber. “The fruit flavours of strawberries, raspberries, melon, and a hint of jasmine, compliment most dishes.”

End it on a sweet note

If you are finishing your Festive celebration meal off with something sweet – such as an apple and caramel braai pie, Melktert, Cape Brandy tart, Koeksisters, Malva pudding, Amagwinya/vetkoek with jam, or Hertzoggies – Groot Constantia recommend pouring a glass of their iconic Grand Constance. “This full-bodied sweet wine with caramel and dried fruit flavours will complement the sugar content of any sweet dessert,” concludes Gerber.

If you don’t feel like cooking then visit one of Groot Constantia’s two top-notch restaurants, Jonkershuis and Simon’s, where visitors can enjoy a great meal after they have finished exploring the Visitors Route. Jonkershuis is surrounded by ancient oak trees and Simon’s offers al fresco dining on the terrace. You can also order a picnic basket to enjoy on the lawns.

This is the only wine farm that is a member of the Big Six tourist destinations in Cape Town (the other members include Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch and Cape Point) and it is easy to see why when you visit and spend time at this special Provincial Heritage Site.

For more information visit www.grootconstantia.co.za or connect with Groot Constantia via social media on Twitter, facebook and Instagram @GrootConstantia.

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