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An idiot's guide to red wine... and what to pair it with

Red wines can be largely intimidating when you don't know your merlot from your pinotage, but that doesn't have to stop you from enjoying a good bottle of the crushed grape. 

Walking down the aisles in search of the perfect bottle can be a stressful guessing game, which may, or may not yield positive results. 

To help us along as we head into the colder season, we asked sommelier and private client manager for Moet Hennessey, Xolani Mancotywa, to give us his recommendations of the hottest red wines for the cooler season.

Arcangeli 2016 Red Blend
Arcangeli 2016 Red Blend
Image: Supplied

Wine: Arcangeli | 2016 Red Blend

Varietal: 42% Merlot, 35% Petit Verdot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon

Food Pairing: Classic SA braai filled with red meat complimented with a mushroom ragout

Price: R130 per bottle 

Why we should care: This wine is a new kid on the block and a true value for money

Why it is cool: This growing brand is made by young guys who care about the classics

Why we should be drinking it: One of the best blends on the market and easily accessible on the palate.

Wine: Fable Mountain | The Raptor Post | 2016 Red Blend

Varietal: 50% Grenache Noir, 39% Syrah, 11% Mourvedre

Food Pairing: Smoked Norwegian gravadlax served with peppercorn mousse

Price: R110 per bottle 

Why we should care: 100% natural wine made from the farm with care and dedication, completely free of additives

Why it is cool: Unusually, this wine is made in a way that it can be enjoyed slightly chilled 

Why we should be drinking it: This wine is a taste sensation once chilled and a true summer time red

Wine: Rupert & Rothschild Classique | 2015

Varietal: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10 Cabernet Franc

Food Pairing: Slow Braised oxtail, parmesan mash and gremolata

Price: R180 per bottle 

Why we should care: This is a red for all occasions, especially for wine lovers

Why it is cool: Performs consistently year to year and is loved by those that have experienced it

Why we should be drinking it: Holds structure, body and elegance over time and therefore ages well

Moreson The Widow Maker 2015 Pinotage
Moreson The Widow Maker 2015 Pinotage
Image: Supplied

Wine: Moreson | The Widow Maker | Pinotage 2015

Varietal: 100% Pinotage

Food Pairing: Game meat, over a braai.

Price: R220 per bottle (Cellar Door Price)

Why we should care: 100% proudly South African Varietal created in 1925

Why its cool: Lively farm tucked away in Franschhoek, this wine sings with personality

Why we should be drinking it: Taste of SA in a glass. Supremely well balanced


Wine: Hartenberg | The Stork | 2014

Varietal: 100% Shiraz

Food Pairing:

Price: R650 per bottle (Cellar Door Price)

Why we should care:  This is a unique site for shiraz vines, which are usually planted on poor quality stony soils.  he soil of The Stork Shiraz is completely the opposite and thus able to get a rounded, smooth silky-style Shiraz. 

Why its cool:  The wine is named after Ken Mackenzie (late owner of the estate). Ken was a spitfighter pilot during the second world war and his callsign was Stork (like the bird –  he was a tall big man with spindly legs).

Why we should be drinking it:  A unique style of Shiraz that is limited to this vineyard only.  Mouth filling with a fresh finish.  Since the first vintage (2003) the wine has received recognition both locally and internationally and the 2008 vintage was the no 1 wine in a world-wide Shiraz specific competition held in the birthplace of Shiraz, the Rhône Valley, in France.  Well worth investing in for drinking now or ageing for another few years.

Wine: Kanonkop Kadette | Cape Blend | 2016

Varietal: 57% Pinotage, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc.

Food Pairing: Cape Malay style cuisine

Price: R105 per bottle (Cellar Door Price)

Why we should care: Cape blends are at the core of our history as South Africans. It is always a treasure getting to experience a well-priced version in SA

Why its cool: Cape Blends are from SA and this is a great example of a Pinotage blend, a uniquely South African wine

Why we should be drinking it: Local is Lekker, this is a way to support out unique winemakers

Image: Supplied

Wine: Paserene Marathon | 2015

Varietal: 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 51% Petit Verdot, 7% Carmenere

Food Pairing: Lamb shank Casserole served on a bed of samp with steamed brocoli

Price: R350 per bottle (Cellar Door Price)

Why we should care: New boutique producer focusing quality and rare varietals

Why its cool: Unique terroir selection with a higher than normal Petit Verdot addition as well as a rare Carmenere varietal addition

Why we should be drinking it: Rare and unique red wine taste experience

Wine:  Cederberg Private Cellar | Cederberg Shiraz 2016

Varietal: Shiraz

Food Pairing:  If you like bitter chocolate or strong cheese - this is a perfect match.

Price: R243 per bottle

Why we should care: The winemaker and owner, David Nieuwoudt and his team are extremely passionate

Why its cool: Cederberg vineyards are the highest altitude vineyards in the Western Cape, which make them rather cool!

Why we should be drinking it: They consistently make wines which are of excellent quality, and this is definitely one of these top end wines

Wine: Rascallion Wines | Rascallion Wines 45 RPM 2016

Varietal: Red Blend: 36% Grenache Blanc, 32% Cinsaut, 26% Mourvedre, 6% Tannat

Food Pairing: Get your rosemary-encrusted lamb chops out with this

Price: R126 per bottle 

Why we should care: This is a relatively new brand pushing the boundaries wine-making.

Why its cool: This wine is part of Rascallion's Vinyl collection - so if you still have an old record-player, then open this up this wine to enjoy while listening to your old 45RPM vinyls.

Why we should be drinking it:  It is an interesting mix of white and red wine varieties

Wine: Raats Family Wines | Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2015

Varietal: Cabernet Franc (single variety)

Food Pairing:  Try this with some tarragon chicken or duck breasts

Price: R506 per bottle 

Why we should care: Raats Family Wines was the TOP Winery in the latest Platter Guide

Why its cool: Cab Franc is the up-and-coming cool variety - taste more at the Cab Franc Festival in May at Avontuur Winery just outside Stellenbosch

Why we should be drinking it: There are very few Cabernet Franc wines in South Africa,  so try it now while you can.

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