Unusual wine tastings in the Cape winelands

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Keen to try something different? Malu Lambert discovers 13 unusual wine-tasting experiences.

Salt and vine
Die Bergkelder, a cellar cut into the side of a mountain in Stellenbosch, is already an atmospheric place to visit. Then, there’s the salt-and-wine tasting with Fleur du Cap’s wines to really up the ante. How does it work? Small bites seasoned with different types of salt are served on salt blocks. Try the unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc paired with sulphuric salt and dolmades; then the unfiltered Chardonnay with green olive pesto and black lava salt; move on to the unfiltered Merlot with prosciutto and Murray River salt; and the Cabernet Sauvignon pairs with sun-dried tomatoes, gouda cheese and Khoisan salt; and lastly, for a sweet and salty ending, the Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest is paired with Maldon salted fudge.
Cost: R75 per person
Times: Daily


Chocolate and safari
Waterford offers two unique tasting experiences. The first is the Wine and Chocolate Experience, for which winemaker Kevin Arnold and chocolatier Richard von Geusau created a series of dark and milk chocolates especially for the Stellenbosch wine estate. These pair with the Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Natural Sweet wines. For those feeling a bit more adventurous, hop aboard the Land Rover for a two-hour trip around the estate and drink the wines from the vineyards of origin.
Cost: R50 per person
Times: The chocolate experience is available daily; for the safari you need to make a booking


Have a flippin’ good time
Pancakes and wine will do just fine, or so the folks at Delheim say. The tasting consists of three different pancakes and matching wines: from a wholewheat salmon pancake with Delheim Pinotage Rosé to a lamb shank pancake with the Cabernet Sauvignon and, lastly, the pickled pumpkin pancake paired with Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest.
Cost: R75 per person
Times: Daily (though pre-booking is essential)


Adventure time with wine
Warwick Wines ‘Big 5 Vineyard Safari’ is a rather adventurous and scenic way to taste wine, plus all ages are welcome (a nice idea to keep the kids occupied). How does it work? A Land Rover safari vehicle takes you on a tour through the mountain and vineyards. Your guide will compare ‘Big 5’ animals to their ‘Big 5’ grape varieties. And yes, you get to taste wine along the way too.
Cost: R50 per person, five wines
Times: Daily, every hour on the hour (though it does help to pre-book to avoid disappointment)

wine safari

Class in a glass
At Esona Wine Estate in Robertson they offer vertical wine tastings in Riedel crystal glasses, which are said to ‘highlight the difference between vintages of the same cultivar’, against ordinary wine glasses. Also included in this tasting are chocolates and preserves.
Cost: 85 per person
Times: Booking is required

Food for thought
The team at Van Loveren has put a lot of thought into their food and wine pairings and now offers seven different options. These include chocolate, cheese, charcuterie or nougat and nuts with wine, a ‘Four Cousins fan’ pairing, plus non-alcoholic pairings for both adults and kids.
Cost: Depends on pairing
Times: Daily (and no need to pre-book)


Taste and blend
Always dreamed of becoming a winemaker? Well here’s your chance. Excelsior Estate in Robertson invites its guests to blend their own wine during a wine tasting; even so far as to bottling, corking and labelling it to take it home.
Cost: Enquire when booking
Times: Daily (according to availability)

Nuts about wine?
The people at Nitida Wine Farm certainly are. Head to this Durbanville winery for the ‘NutsAboutNitida’ pairing: taste Nitida wines alongside a selection of organic nuts, dried fruits and veggies. The pairings are said to change every few weeks but think of combinations such as black figs with Sauvignon Blanc, peaches and Semillon, raw brazil nuts and Cabernet Sauvignon, and so on.
Cost: R50 per person
Times: Daily (between certain hours)


Let’s go sailing
Both wine and water flow at this tasting. All aboard Uncle Ben 2 to for a unique wine experience along the Breede River with Viljoensdrift. The flat-bottomed boat takes a slow hour-long cruise along the river, which is flanked by indigenous Breede River yellowwood and wild olive trees. The tip is to fill your picnic basket with delicious treats from the deli for an on-board picnic.
Cost: A minimum of six adults or a minimum amount of R270 will be required in order for the boat depart (advance bookings are essential)
Times: The first cruise is at 12:00 daily, thereafter hourly trips (booking dependent)


More than wine
KWV Wine Emporium has a number of interesting tastings on offer. Try the biltong, nut and wine tasting, or perhaps the chocolate and brandy tasting is more your speed. There’s also a wine and chocolate tasting and then, for something completely different, a liqueur & Lindt Chocolate pairing.
Cost: Dependent on the tasting
Times: Daily (booking is advisable)

Go on a journey…
A wine and chocolate one that is, at Spice Route in Paarl: a selection of four wines including the famed Chakalaka is paired with four chocolates from DV Artisan, the on-site chocolatier.
Cost: R75 per person
Times: Daily

Olives and chocolate
Historic wine estate in Paarl Laborie is breaking with tradition with some unusual pairings that include an ‘Olive & Wine’ tasting: Laborie Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon paired with green olives, Italian olives and calamata olives; as well as a ‘Divine Choc & Wine’, which pairs chocolate that was handmade to reflect Laborie wines, and includes: Laborie MCC Rosé paired with milk rose geranium, Laborie Chardonnay paired with white lemon verbena, and Pineau de Laborie paired with white plum and vanilla. And there’s a third one, ‘Choc & Wine Obsession’: Laborie Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc paired with dark cherry tobacco, Laborie Shiraz paired with Cape Malay spice and Alambic brandy paired with dark orange chocolate.
Cost: Pairings vary in price
Times: Daily

What a twist
Also in Paarl, shady wine estate Under Oaks Wines offers a biltong, nuts and wine tasting ‘with a sweet twist at the end’: sweet chilli cashew nuts paired with Sauvignon Blanc, droëwors paired with Chardonnay, beef biltong paired with Cabernet Sauvignon and chilli bites paired with Shiraz, finished off with a ‘sweet temptation’ paired with white muscadel. Plus they do a chocolate tasting: a range of wines paired with different Lindt chocolates.
Cost: Varies
Times: Daily