As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I really enjoy wine tasting in South Africa. I’ve done a few media visits to various South African wine regions over the years, and recently I’ve made an effort to actually learn something about wine so I can figure out which wines I like best and not sound like a neophyte when talking/writing about them.
So when my friend Dee from the Good Holiday invited me to come to Noble Vice — a fancy wine and culinary festival, well known in wine circles but unknown to me — I was excited to check it out. This year’s Noble Vice fest took place at the Kaapzicht Wine Estate in Stellenbosch and featured 60 South African winemakers and six chefs over two days.
Wine Tasting Don’ts
I should have done the math beforehand. 60 winemakers ÷ 2 days = 30 winemakers per day. 30 winemakers per day x 3 wines per winemaker (give or take) = a lot of wine tasting in a single day.
Also, I should have heeded the number-one rule of tasting wine: After sipping the wine and tasting it in your mouth, you spit it out. (There were discreet spitting bowls placed at every wine-tasting station specifically for this purpose, and the serious wine tasters were using them.)
But…ahem…at the risk of sounding super inappropriate: Swallowing is a lot more enjoyable than spitting.
Although I swallowed, I did try to sip only a little bit of each wine — savoring the taste, figuring out what I liked and didn’t like — and then pouring the rest into the bowl. Nonetheless, I ran out of stamina pretty quickly on the first day. I didn’t get drunk exactly, but I did get tired and cranky and sick of wine. A couple of hours in, I could barely differentiate a Chenin from a Cinsault.
Tasting wine at an event like this is not an exercise to be undertaken lightly. You need to have a plan — a strategy, if you will — or by late afternoon you will find yourself dozing against a wine barrel in the corner. (I literally did this — thank goodness Dee didn’t take a picture.)
Wine Tasting Dos
I was better on the second day. I didn’t even think about trying to sample all the wines and I tasted very few red wines, which make me tired. I focused on bubbly, which makes me happy. I had more substantive conversations with the winemakers, who tend to be very interesting, entertaining people. (I particularly enjoyed talking to the women winemakers, of whom there were quite a few more on the second day than the first.) And I ate more food.
I still didn’t spit — I’m not sure I’ll ever do that. But I swallowed more intelligently.
Winemakers at Noble Vice
I didn’t do a great job of taking photos at Noble Vice (see excuses above) but I did get a few, several of which feature my favorite winemakers from the festival.
I left Noble Vice with some Rebel Rebel, some Dainty Bess, a bunch of new friends, and a lot more wine wisdom — a successful venture overall. I’m looking forward to using all my newfound knowledge at the next wine tasting event (after I’ve had the chance to dry out for a few weeks or months).
Thanks to Noble Vice for my admission to the festival. And thanks to Dee for inviting me and for doing a fantastic edit on my photos.