Think Drink

South African Wine, Uncorked

Why South African wine might just be the best pick for your big day.

Being a teetotalling vegetarian isn’t the obvious background of a wine importer. Then again, South Africa wasn’t exactly associated with fine wine either when Cape Classics Wine CEO Andre Shearer first introduced the country’s best vino to the U.S. in 1992. But thanks to South Africa’s vineyards’ consistent quality and nice price, it can be one of the best options for your wedding. What’s better than delicious drinkability and budget-friendly cost?

Armed with these two secret weapons, it is no surprise that Cape Classics Wine, which today represents more than 20 of the country’s finest estates and labels, is fast becoming a force in the U.S. market. Here is Cape Classic’s take on how to pick the best wine for your wedding.

How should a couple get started on picking wine for their wedding day? It can be a little intimidating.
First of all, have fun with it. If you haven’t already, begin tasting wines at every opportunity you get to become more comfortable with the flavor profiles. Then decide how much you want to spend and look for wines that offer bang for the buck.

That’s the most important factor; you don't have to spend a fortune to serve great wines at your wedding. Later, when trying the dishes to be served at your wedding, bring the wines you liked to taste alongside. Make sure the wines don’t overwhelm the food. Select at least one white and one red option.

How can a bride and groom get familiar with the different tastes of wine if they aren’t already?
Do a little research online. Critics' scores and wine descriptions on wineries’ websites can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask your local wine shop manager, wedding planner or caterer who can provide reliable food-and-wine pairing advice. You should taste the suggestions before settling on a particular wine, and make sure you're getting something that over-delivers for the price.

Why does time of day or food served impact the kind of wine you serve?
Daytime weddings tend to serve lighter dishes and therefore guests tend to drink lighter-bodied wines. This is especially true in the summer months when guests are seeking a refresher from the heat. Look for the super food-friendly Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($15) or the lightly oaked Indaba Chardonnay 2011 ($10), which is a tremendous value.

Evening weddings typically serve heavier dishes that call for more medium-bodied wines with power. One tip: Select ones with soft tannins so they don’t overwhelm the dishes being served. The well-balanced DMZ Chardonnay 2011 ($15) continually over-delivers for its modest price and the charming Glenelly Glass Collection Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) is an award-winning selection.

And don’t forget about rosé! A rosé works wonderfully for both daytime and evening wedding as it can pair well with a range of foods. Mulderbosch Rosé 2011 ($12), which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, is a year-round favorite.

What makes South Africa wines special in the global market?
South Africa is unique in that it has ancient soils, a long winemaking history (over 350 years!), ample sunshine and perfect Mediterranean climate, as well as the gentle cooling breezes of two mighty oceans. This special combination enables them to produce some of the world's best wines.

Finally, what’s next in grapes-to-watch?
Chenin Blanc is a grape growing in popularity as a wedding wine. It’s a great alternative to Pinot Grigio and something your guests will find fun, interesting and easy drinking. Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2011 ($14) strikes the perfect balance as both a daytime and evening option.

--Erinn Bucklan

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