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The Masters of the Universe (Guest Post)

Vinted on April 21, 2008 under guest posts

(images: eyesonafrica.ne, shebeenpub.com, news.aunz.yimg.com, experienceholidays.co.uk)

Following is guest post from Henré Rossouw. Henré is the social media strategist and blog author of WineCountry.co.za, an umbrella wine, food and lifestyle portal dedicated to the Paarl Wine Region. Paarl’s rich history, quality wines and breathtaking scenery makes it one of the wine landmarks of South Africa.

The Masters of the Universe

From sunny South Africa, the country that brought you Pinotage, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, Oscar winning performances by the monstrous Charlize Theron and talented Gavin Hood, sporting icons such as Gary Player and Ernie Els and now, the US Masters Champion of 2008, Trevor Immelman, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of Joe’s readers.

While Joe and his wife care for the most precious little thing on earth, he has granted me the opportunity to grace you with some wine flavoured news from my country.

Of course, very few articles about South Africa these days make it past the first couple of paragraphs without mentioning the unfortunate stain that Apartheid left on our page and the impact it had on our people, our economy and also our wine industry…

Since that fateful day in 1994 when the barriers of Aparthied had been torn down, our country went from strength to strength. I also can’t help but contribute our country’s rise to stature to our Rugby World Cup winning team that beat the New Zealand All Blacks on the 14th of June, 1995 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Due to an unfortunate incident prior to the final, it was almost seen as a touch from God that Chester Williams (born in my hometown Paarl) became only the second “player of colour” to don the Springbok jersey. Chester today is still seen as an icon to just about every rugby fan in South Africa.

Since 1994, the wine industry in South Africa boomed once again. For a country with a 350 year old wine history, the end of apartheid signified the beginning of New World penetration. Despite global recession, our international exports in 2001 have increased a massive 17.1% from the previous year.

While South Africa’s industry is very small, ranking in at only 16th with about 1.5% of global plantings it is our production and quality that sees us at 7th position, accounting for 3% of the world’s wine.

Since 1994, the wine industry in South Africa boomed once again. For a country with a 350 year old wine history, the end of apartheid signified the beginning of New World penetration.”

Of course, it is our signature red grape, Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (grown under the name of Hermitage in South Africa) that distinguishes us from other wine producing countries.

Pinotage, a portmanteau of Pinot Noir and Hermitage, was first created by a South African Viticulture professor, Abraham Izak Perold in 1925 and received its first recognition in 1959 when it became champion at the Cape Wine Show.

Fast forward a couple of years, the birth of the Internet as it is known today, and a new trend in Internet usage – loosely termed as social media – and it was a winery from my neighbouring town, Wellington, that revolutionised the South African wine industry.

By employing blogging (this thing you’re reading here) as sole marketing tactic, Stormhoek Wines received international acclaim for groundbreaking marketing innovation!

They offered a free bottle of Stormhoek wine for each person commenting on their blog and also published a renowned UK liquor store’s discount voucher on their blog.

The rest, as they say, is history. A little closer to my home, it is the Paarl Wine Region which we thought could do with some much needed exposure. Nestled between the historic wine landmarks of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, it is widely known in local circles that Paarl, with its 105 wineries, produces some of the finest quality wines in South Africa.

The WineCountry website and blog pays tribute to this place I call home and we’re looking forward to playing host to more international visitors exploring the beauty of the Cape Winelands.

Till next time!

- The Plonk signing off.

How 1+1 Can Equal 3: Making Every Wine Experience Exceptional (Guest Post)

Vinted on March 26, 2008 under guest posts, wine how to

The following is a guest post from Jason Whiteside. Jason was previously a Sommelier & Wine Consultant on the Dutch/French Island of St. Martin, and was the original Wine Director of Cosimo Wine Bar in Malvern, PA. He is part of the Wine Educator staff at ChaddsFord Winery, and holds the Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine & Spirits (with Distinction) from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, holding their Certified Specialist of Wine qualification. Most importantly, he is Joe’s partner in crime over at 2WineDudes!

(images: jupiterimages.com, www.csc.gov.sg)

HOW 1+1 CAN EQUAL 3

In my business, I field a lot of questions about wine. The hardest questions to answer are the ones that start like this: “I was in Tuscany on vacation, and we had this incredible bottle of wine. We brought some home, and it doesn’t taste the same. Why is that?”

The answer is difficult to explain. Different atmospheric pressures can alter the taste of a bottle. The same wine that was great high up in the mountains can taste flat if drank at sea level. Or, maybe the wine hadn’t recovered from the trans-atlantic jostling at 35,000 feet. But the reality is usually just this: they aren’t on vacation anymore. Since most of the other parts that made up such a great overall drinking experience are still back in Tuscany, the answer is usually that simple.

The reason, in other words, is that a glass of wine is an experience, not just a taste

I believe that any extraordinary wine experience is usually a combination of a few different contextual factors: the food that accompanies it, the people with whom you drink it, and the atmosphere in which this all takes place. For example, maybe it was a decent bottle of wine you had on vacation, but it lacked that special quality it had in Italy when you drank it at home. So why do you have such fond memories of that wine? Maybe because you spent the day with your loved one walking around the hills of Tuscany, climbing the medieval towers of San Gimignano, and ended your day with a delicious meal of bistecca alla fiorentina. All without a single thought of your emails piling up at work. Good wine with the right people, in the right place, or with the right food, allows the combination to be greater than just the sum of the parts.

So, the question becomes, how do we make a good bottle of wine taste extraordinary at home? This starts with finding a quality wine. An example of an exceptional bargain is Rolf Binder’s 2004 Fetish The Watcher Australian shiraz. This wine, packed with red fruits, ripe raspberries, and a hint of spice on the nose, is on sale for $9.99 in PA, marked down from roughly $26.00. I tried it months ago, and I thought it was a good buy at $26.00, so consider it a steal at $9.99!

Now that you have the right wine, add the right surroundings, have the right food. Leave the frozen food in the freezer and make some hamburgers by hand, working some fresh flavors into your ground beef. Slice fresh tomatoes, lettuce, maybe sauté fresh mushrooms. Choose gruyere cheese instead of using those Kraft Singles. Invite over a few friends, fire up your grill, and open up that bottle of Shiraz. If all the right parts are in place, you’ll have an amazing wine experience, and a wonderful time.

And everyone will see how one plus one can equal three.

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