Wine can lift your spring party time

The season for poolside snaps and flowing maxi dresses is upon us. The balmy spring weather is conducive to celebrations and South Africans are big on their parties.

This spring you can elevate your get-together with some wine tips we have gleaned from Farai Magwada, head sommelier at Cavalli Estate in the Western Cape.

The 39-year-old describes himself as a patient, effective and compassionate person. Magwada started out as a waiter, though he felt like he was "going nowhere slowly".

Fortunately for him, he received the opportunity to work with sommelier Carl Haber in 2009 and it was a match made in wine heaven, so to speak.

"I learnt a lot from him and fortified my knowledge with studies through the Cape Wine Academy. I became his assistant at the Mount Nelson then moved to Cavalli where I became head sommelier," he said.

The wine industry in this country has been overwhelmingly white over the years, even though a large number of black South Africans consume wine. In recent years the industry has started to change and we now have many black people who are getting into producing wine and joining wine clubs as connoisseurs.

Magwada’s wine buying tip for beginners

Go with your instinct,

Taste as much as possible,

Always try a new wine,

Don’t go shopping for wine based on how expensive the wines are.  

It's a movement Magwada has experienced first-hand and is excited about.

"There is such a positive development in our industry with more people of colour rising within the ranks and becoming managers and sommeliers. I would like to see more black owners of high-ranking establishments," he said.

When queried on what misconceptions he wanted to dispel about wine, he advised people to steer clear of letting an expert determine what their tastes are. People's tastes are different and their opinions are valid, he argued.

Another thing he mentioned was that buyers often adopt the mentality that the "more expensive wine is, the better it tastes". This is not always true, though he did concede that people often enjoyed the wine more when they knew it was expensive.

And what of the age-old saying that wine got better with age?

Image: 123RF

"There is no way of telling. Experts and winemakers can only but make an educated guess. If it's good now it can most likely get better and vice versa," he said.

Magwada, whose knowledge is vast, hopes to one day run a wine-based business providing wine and advice to guests.

When we got back to our topic of the perfect refreshment for a warm-weather do, Magwada described what a summer or warm weather wine should be like.

"A summer wine must be elegant, light, refreshing and vibrant; could be white like our refreshing new Cavalli Filly Chenin or a red such as our Cavalli new vintage Warlord or, of course, a bubbly like the Cavalli Capriole MCC."

Of course, half of the fun with wine is all the concoctions you can create with it. In the spring and summer you can have your guests sip on a Bellini - a mixture of Prosecco (sparkling wine) and a peach puree or nectar. Alternatively, you can have the much-loved sangria - a drink of Spanish origin that is a mixture of wine, orange juice, fruits and spice. There are many recipes to explore that will surprise and delight your guests. 

Recipe for the perfect summer sangria 

Fruit (like apples and oranges)

  • Orange juice
  • Brown sugar
  • Brandy
  • Red wine
  • Ice

Method: In a pitcher, muddle some oranges and apples with sugar, add a bit of orange juice and brandy and muddle it a bit more. Top it up with red wine. Adjust with sugar, brandy or orange juice to taste.  Add ice.


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