South Africans love our food, and our country is rich with a variety of cultures – all with their own special meals that embody their heritage. Whether it is the evocative smells of a boerewors braai or shisa nyama fire, a delicious curry, pap with chakalaka, a spicy bobotie, snoek pate with roosterkoek – the list of traditional South African dishes is extensive.
September is Heritage Month – culminating with Heritage Day on the 24th – and a time for South Africans to celebrate their roots. With family and friends set to gather all around South Africa to celebrate the long Heritage Day weekend, Groot Constantia Wine Estate has put together some special wine pairing recommendations to go with your traditional heritage day meal.
Start on a bubbly note
No celebration is really complete without some bubbles to toast the occasion, and an easy drinking Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wine – South Africa’s very own version of the French “champagne” (cheers to being proudly South African) – is definitely the way to kick off your Heritage get-together.
Boela Gerber, winemaker for Groot Constantia, explains that Groot Constantia’s Methode Cap Classique Brut Rosé is a light pink colour with ripe tropical fruity flavours that pairs beautifully with fish – making this the perfect accompaniment with a starter platter of snoek pate canapés.
Fire things up
Heritage Day is commonly referred to as National Braai Day and so if you are planning to light up that braai fire – or perhaps you refer to it in your culture as shisa nyama – then there are many great wine options to enjoy with that delicious char-grilled meat.
Red meat and red wine go together like peas and carrots
“When red meat is on the menu for your braai a good wine choice is a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon – both full-bodied wines that pair incredibly well with lamb chops or beef steak,” says Gerber.
White wines hold their own against the heat
If you are planning on popping some chicken on the fire – perhaps a spatchcock, sosaties or Umleqwa (free range chicken) – then a Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal wine pairing option. It goes great with potato salad too. “And for those that opt for less meat on the braai, a Chardonnay goes beautifully with braaied mealies. And my personal favourite – a Weskus mussel pot is perfectly washed down with a chilled glass of Groot Constantia Chardonnay!” says Gerber.
Lets step away from the fire for a while
Not everyone thinks of a braai fire when it comes to their traditional foods and if you are planning on cooking up a delicious spicy bobotie or perhaps a time-honored curry then Groot Constantia recommend an easy drinking red blend which pairs beautifully with the sweet, spicy and fragrant flavours of these dishes.
Many people think that you can’t pair wine with curry but that is not true, and you won’t go wrong with the Groot Constantia Lady of Abundance,” says Gerber. The newest wine to join the stable of varietals produced by the Estate, this special red blend is made up from Pinotage, Shiraz, and Merlot.
Truly traditional wine pairings
Groot Constantia explain that when it comes to traditional foods such as samp and beans (Umngqusho), pap with sheba or smoorsnoek there are not really any officially recognised wines to pair with such dishes but Gerber gives his opinion based on his many years of experience. “It also depends on what you enjoy personally, and I always recommend that you experiment until you find the combination that works for you.”
Smoorsnoek is made with smoked or fresh snoek, potatoes, onions and spices. Traditionally served on rice with a slice of farm bread and jam. “If you are looking for the perfect wine to complement this dish then look no further than a white blend such as the Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was created to pair perfectly with any fish dish.”
“A glass of Merlot with its red fruit flavours is a great companion for starchy dishes as well as meats. This makes it a great choice to pair with your pap and sheba. It will also definitely compliment a cheesy braai broodjie or a potato bake.”
“Samp and Beans is vegetable based so a chilled Rosé wine is a wonderful choice to accompany this dish on a warm Spring day,” says Gerber. “The fruit flavours of strawberries, raspberries, melon, and a hint of jasmine, compliment most dishes.”
End it on a sweet note
If you are finishing your Heritage Day celebration meal off with something sweet – such as an apple and caramel braai pie, Melktert, Cape Brandy tart, Koeksisters, Malva pudding, Amagwinya/vetkoek with jam, or Hertzoggies – Groot Constantia recommend pouring a glass of their iconic Grand Constance. “This full-bodied sweet wine with caramel and dried fruit flavours will complement the sugar content of any sweet dessert,” concludes Gerber.
Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance is actually the perfect wine with which to toast Heritage Month as it is the oldest wine in South Africa with a history that dates back to the Napoleonic era.
Heritage is Groot Constantia’s “thing”
The Groot Constantia Wine Estate is in fact the oldest wine farm in the country – having produced wine uninterrupted for 334 years – so heritage is integral to the Estate and is woven into every experience on offer to the public.
Groot Constantia was founded in 1685 when Simon van der Stel, the Governor of the Cape Colony, was granted property which he named “Constantia”. Over centuries the property was subdivided which gave rise to the name “Groot Constantia”, the property with the original homestead of Simon van der Stel.
And thus the oldest wine-producing farm in South Africa was born, and became the origin of the South African wine industry. “Groot Constantia is now a Provincial Heritage Site and a living museum with the task of preserving the history and cultural legacy of the South African wine industry for the people of South Africa. It is our role to nurture Groot Constantia for many more generations to come,” explains Jean Naudé, CEO of Groot Constantia. “History is woven into the fabric of Groot Constantia’s story – from the moment visitors arrive they are transported back in time.”
If you don’t feel like hosting your own braai then visit one of Groot Constantia’s two top-notch restaurants, Jonkershuis and Simon’s, where visitors can enjoy a great traditional meal after they have finished exploring the Visitors Route. Jonkershuis is surrounded by ancient oak trees and Simon’s offers al fresco dining on the terrace. You can also order a picnic basket to enjoy on the lawns.
This is the only wine farm that is a member of the Big Six tourist destinations in Cape Town (the other members include Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch and Cape Point) and it is easy to see why when you visit and spend time at this special Provincial Heritage Site.
About Groot Constantia
Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine-producing farm – in existence for 334 years this year. Wine has been produced on the estate without interruption since 1685 when Commander Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was originally granted the land on which Groot Constantia stands.
It has changed hands many times over the centuries and now Groot Constantia is a Provincial Heritage Site and a living museum with the task of preserving the history and cultural legacy of the South African wine industry for the people of South Africa. The current owners of the estate, the Groot Constantia Trust, a non-profit company, has ensured that Groot Constantia is beautifully maintained and operated to the highest standards – delivering a top-quality experience to visitors.
Groot Constantia’s wines have collectively won well over 100 top awards in the past 10 years alone.
This is the only wine farm that is a member of the Big Six tourist destinations in Cape Town. The other members include Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch and Cape Point.