Written by Katy Rose

I am fortunate enough to be a well traveled South African. I’ve traveled far and wide, adventurously and conservatively, on business and for pleasure. Regardless of where I travel or why, there is always one encounter that will be guaranteed. Someone will, through the course of my meal or taxi ride ask me. “And where are you from?” Depending on the fluency factor (usually theirs and not mine) the questions inevitably lean towards the predictable, and I’ve often found myself wondering, “What is the best way to introduce a stranger to my South Africa?” My answer, as it is to most problems, is predictably: Wine.

Wine is a truly personal and unique creation – no two wines are ever the same, as are no two vintages – each bottle is instilled with the passion and creative spirit of the winemaker, as well as being heavily laden with his own subjectivity. Each wine is inevitably linked to the soil, the terroir and in the same way each South African wine carries with it the spirit of the soil out of which it grew. The wine making tradition did not originate from South Africa but as with our culture and language, we have taken the best from our ancestors, and blended it and distilled it to produce a style that is both traditional, and yet dynamic and versatile. South African winemakers have not been afraid to cut their own path, bringing to their trade the courage to try something new. And through their creativity we can experience, and share the experience of a diverse and accessible and South Africa.

South African wines, in their many varieties and many different varietals offer a very succinct metaphor for South Africa and all her people. With every glass of wine, I am taken on a new journey. Sometimes that journey is towards a looming headache, but initially anyway, the journey is to the place where the vine connects with the soil. As a child I learnt of the great, almost majestic estates of Stellenbosch producing classical Bordeaux blends and I understood that these were my cultural heirlooms. Every time I find myself sipping on a vivacious and refined Methode Cap Classic, I am transported to the Franschoek Valley, and I wonder to myself, how could I have ever doubted that anything but beautiful wine could come from such a breathtaking setting? In the fresh, green wines of Constantia I taste the fog of two oceans, and in the deep, sweet Cape Ports of the Klein Karoo I taste hot summer days and dusty sunsets.

Through wine we can communicate on levels that surpass culture and bias. This is something that we can understand without words or a glossary or even a common language. I believe that the heritage of South African wine making is distilled down to this one ideal – to tell our story. So when I’m asked where I come from, I reply “Let me tell you about South Africa. Here, take a glass.”

Katy Rose writes Katy’s Table, a Food Wine & Lifestyle blog focusing on the very best of creativity and innovation in Food and Drink. Her career in the Hospitality Industry takes her all over the world, but she still calls Cape Town home, and spends her free time writing, drinking coffee and planning her next holiday. www.katystable.wordpress.com

*Article taken from The Culinary Artist, Issue 1

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