With the warmer months just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to explore some big and bold red wines. One wine, in particular, seems tailor-made to be enjoyed with the smokey meaty flavors of grilled foods: Pinotage. The Pinotage grape is the result of the crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The grape is South Africa’s signature variety and was created in an attempt to develop a hardy crop that could survive in the country's tough climate.
Since its creation in 1925, the grape has grown to be considered uniquely South African and is extremely popular in its home country. Thanks to an increased interest due to its hardiness and taste potential, other countries have started growing the grapes in abundance. Currently, Pinotage crops exist in New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.
Pinotage wine is bold and intense and not for the faint of heart. Dark purple fruits are the dominant flavors in most bottles with plum and blackberry being the most prominent. Less common are red fruit flavors such as raspberry and cherry. Alongside the more dominant fruit notes are hints of red liquorice, bell pepper, tobacco, and rooibos tea. Sometimes, Pinotage can have a distinctly meaty taste, and some have described it as having hints of bacon.
Pinotage has a medium body and only medium acidity. The wine also has a fair amount of tannins, however, they tend to be fairly sweet in the finish.
What to pair with Pinotage? Meat, and lots of it! Considering its South Africa origins, it’s hardly surprising that Pinotage is often paired with grilled, or braised meats. Grilled or slow-cooked sausages, beef, and lamb all do a great job of bringing out the sweeter notes of Pinotage and bring out the wine's inherent smokiness.
Gamey meats are also a great companion to this wine. Venison and oxtail will pair well with the savoury notes of Pinotage. Pinotage also pairs well with spicy foods. In particular, southern India dishes like Biryani and curry are well suited to this wine.
Pinotage is not a wine that benefits from subtlety so focus on meat-heavy, hearty dishes when picking a complimentary recipe. Our recipes for Lamb Shank with Couscous and Green Beans and Braised Short Rib will really bring out the best of this wine. Alternatively, try it with either Black Bean Chili or Chana Masala if you want a vegetarian-friendly option.
Wines to try
Kanonkop Estate Wine Pinotage ($40)
Lush and dense with intense fruit flavors and a smooth finish.
Barista Pinotage ($13)
Full-bodied with pleasant tannins.
The Grinder Pinotage ($15)
This wine has a smooth texture and a rich floral and fruity finish.