Sipping into summer (or winter)

The recent spring solstice and Heritage Day (South Africa’s national braai day) signalled the start of many sociable summer barbecues to come in the southern hemisphere – and lovely mild autumn days in the northern hemisphere. At this time of year, I usually find myself still bridging the gap between red wine and lamb, and crisp, cold summer whites with a fish on the braai.

Days are mostly sunny but there’s still a nip in the air so what’s more likely to be cooked on the grid is Chinese five-spice crispy duck or spicy Cape-Malay curry-marinated sosaties. Both spring and autumn are the perfect time for rosé, a category that’s growing in popularity. There are some delicious examples on the shelves – made in various styles, including more serious drier, savoury ones, and every shade from pink to onion skin – to choose from. Apparently more men are drinking pink too (dubbed ‘brosé’ by the marketing mavens) so also a great choice for those World Rugby Cup match-watching sessions.

A delicious rosé I came across this time last year and enjoyed  while sitting with good friends on a Swartland wine farm stoep with a view to Table Mountain was from Mount Abora, and made of Cinsaut (and technically a Blanc de Noir). Bought earlier at The Wine Kollective in nearby Riebeek Kasteel, it was discreetly recommended by the man behind the counter over the one I had in my hand – and what a lovely find, perfect with the free-range chicken espetadas we were about to braai.

I polled a few wine-loving friends as to what they are drinking at the moment. One, a hotelier, was having a spring love affair with Graham Beck’s bone-dry Gorgeous. Another had been buying up as much Gabriëlskloof Rosebud as friends visiting Bot River could fit in their boots – it’s the hint of pomegranate that really appeals to her. She’s also enjoying the beautifully named Bloos (Afrikaans for ‘Blush’) from Hermanuspietersfontein in the nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.

Then there’s the food-friendly Vondeling Rosé – a favourite of my student daughter, who waitresses at the Foodbarn Restaurant, and a great quaffer ordered by the carafe at their nearby deli to accompany the tapas with their delicious flavours of southern France, written up on a daily chalkboard menu.

There are some lovely lighter rosés made in the classic, crisp Provençal style on the market now too, such as the Grande Provence Rosé under its signature label and the unfiltered Cape Rock from the Olifants River, perfect for sipping at lunchtime on spring or autumn weekends. Then there are old faithfuls, such as the refreshing Stonehill Dry Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, perfect on mild spring or autumn days.

If you prefer a biodynamic tipple, Waterkloof’s Cape Coral Mourvèdre Rosé fits the bill. Another great wine for the changing of the seasons is Waterkloof’s Seriously Cool Cinsaut, which needs to be served slightly chilled (it really does – taste is at room temperature and then cooled down and you’ll see what I mean). And, of course, a lightly chilled Pinot Noir does the trick too, especially if you’re braaing mushrooms or lamb – I’ve been enjoying the brilliant value for money Paul Cluver Reserve from Woolworths recently. But in a month or two it will be time for those dry, crisp Sauvignons and food-friendly Chenins of summer that go so well with braais and blue skies if you are in the sunny south, or some smooth reds and fortified wines at the fireside if you are in northern climes.

– Lindsaye Mc Gregor