Pinotage is a uniquely South African variety of grape. Found nowhere else in the world, this is a product of superior quality. Pinotage is the trump card of the South African wine industry.

A glass of South African Pinotage
Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

What is Pinotage?

A vineyard of grapes for Pinotage wine.
A vineyard of grapes for Pinotage wine.
Photo by Wine Enthusiast

The short answer is that Pinotage is a blend of two wines. It is a variety of red grapes that produce a unique type of wine that is only in South Africa.

Pinotage is, in my opinion at least, the go-to red wine for any occasion! It is the type of red wine you can enjoy with or without a meal. I find it is best served on a cold winter’s day, snuggled by a fireplace.

Pinotage is the one grape varietal that South Africa lays full claim too. The wine variety originated in the Stellenbosch wine region when a University professor crossed two kinds of wines, pinot noir with Cinsaut for the first time in 1925.

The History of Pinotage

Pinotage is a plumb red, with a bold flavour.
Pinotage is a plumb red color, with a bold flavour.
Photo by Pikrepo

Prof. Abraham Izak Perold created Pinotage. You can understand the story of the wine if you know Perold. He had many academic achievements- a degree in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry- which paved the way for his desire to use his extensive knowledge and create a new type of red wine.

Perold’s extensive academic background equipped him with a unique skill set to create a new grape varietal. And so, he went on a grape varietal scouting mission. He returned with 177 varieties of grape, and so discovered Pinotage.

To this day, all 177 varietals still form part of a collection at the Welgevallen Experimental Farm of the University of Stellenbosch! Be sure to visit the farm when on the Stellenbosch Wine Route, near Cape Town.

What does it taste like?

Western red wine similar to pinotage
Western red wine similar to Pinotage.
Image by Andrea Schmidt from Pixabay

Pinotage is a dense plum color with bold flavor. Pinotage is a full, fruity, and robust red wine. It’s generally quite full-bodied, with light to medium tannins and intense flavors. Pinotage usually has notes of plum, tobacco, blackberry, tar, and licorice; it is on the heavier side, but still makes for easy drinking.

My personal favorite is the Beyerskloof Pinotage. It isn’t easy to match this wine or compare it to another kind of red. The Beyerskloof Pinotage is South Africa’s most popular Pinotage, and for the perfect reason.

Food Pairings

Grilled ribeye beef steak with a glass of Pinotage red wine
Grilled ribeye beef steak with a glass of Pinotage red wine
Photo by Matching Food & Wine

Food pairings for Pinotage can range quite significantly. From robust meaty dishes like venison, smoked duck, pulled pork, chili con carne, or a traditional South African potjie. The wine also pairs well with lighter meals like a charcuterie board with cheddar cheese, patés, crackers, and freshly baked bread.

Pinotage also goes down well with a hearty pasta dish like lasagne or meaty pizza. You can enjoy a glass of Pinotage alone, but it can help if you pair it with any meat. Gamey meat that is slow-cooked, or on a braai (a South African BBQ) will go down very well with Pinotage glass.

A glass of red wine.
A glass of red wine.
Image by Dirk Wohlrabe from Pixabay

You can enjoy a glass with other meats, flavorful beef dishes like a stew, or even a steak or burger. Some vintages also pair well with chocolate desserts. All in all, Pinotage is a very versatile wine and is a wine to try should you find one in your local supermarket!

The locals will tell you that Pinotage is not a mere beer. It’s one of the treasures of South Africa and its good for your health too. Let us know in the comment down below about your favorite wine brand!

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