Tasting party with a soul

STYLISH SIPPERS: Nomaswazi Tshabalala and Phumlile Dlamini were among the thousands of people who came to appreciate more than 800 wine labels on show at the Standard Bank Soweto Wine Festival at the weekend. Pic. Robert Magwaza. © FrontPage Pix.
STYLISH SIPPERS: Nomaswazi Tshabalala and Phumlile Dlamini were among the thousands of people who came to appreciate more than 800 wine labels on show at the Standard Bank Soweto Wine Festival at the weekend. Pic. Robert Magwaza. © FrontPage Pix.

Len Maseko

Len Maseko

More than 800 wines is way too big a pool to sample in three hours but the more than 2000 people who visited the Standard Bank Soweto Wine Festival at the weekend made short shrift of the job with flying colours.

Spittoons largely lay idle as visitors preferred to swallow the fermented grape at stalls showcasing wines from more than 90 wine cellars.

This year's event, held at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto campus, showed undoubtedly that the festival was entrenched in the market and had become a popular tourist draw card as well.

A surprising feature was the large contingent of white visitors who came to wallow in the camaraderie of the two-day tasting evenings.

For Louis Nel, winemaker at Hidden Valley, his first visit to Soweto was both an eye-opening experience and a cultural shock.

"I go back home to the Cape winelands, having learnt so much in two days," said Nel, almost breathless as he rolled his eyes.

Unlike many other festivals, which tend to be snobbish depending on the alcohol consumed, the Soweto event distinguished itself as a high-spirited jol with blaring music as an untypical feature.

So it is a wine festival like no other because its distinguishing feature is that it is a party with a soul.

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