Tasting Notes of the Best Wines from South Africa

Best Wines from South Africa

South African wines brands have a long and storied history. With its unique terroir and centuries of experience, South African winemakers have crafted some of the best wines in the world. From the lush Chenin Blancs of the Western Cape to the bold and powerful Shiraz of the Eastern Cape, the flavours of South African wine are as varied and complex as the country itself. In this post, we’ll explore some of the top wines from South Africa, examining their unique flavour profiles and providing helpful tasting notes.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a popular white grape variety of South African wine types. It has the versatility to produce wines of various styles, ranging from light and crisp to rich and full-bodied. It is an essential part of the South African wine scene and can be found in nearly all regions. Depending on how it is made, Chenin Blanc can offer flavours of ripe melon, pear, honey, and green apple. It is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, creating crisp and zesty flavours that are perfect for sipping on a hot summer day. Its versatility and ability to express different terroir makes it a unique and delicious South African wine.


Chardonnay is a white wine grape variety that has been grown in South Africa since the late 19th century. It is one of the most popular and widely planted grapes in the country. Chardonnay can be found in both cool- and warm-climate viticultural areas throughout South Africa, though it is more often planted in cooler climates.

In terms of aroma and flavour, South African Chardonnays tend to have citrus and stone fruit notes with subtle oak nuances. The wine’s texture is usually quite rich and creamy due to malolactic fermentation and barrel ageing. Chardonnay wines from South Africa are often characterized by their bright acidity and delicate minerality.

There are some notable producers of Chardonnay from South Africa, including Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Kleine Zalze, Raats Family Wines, and Vergenoegd Wine Estate. Each producer offers a unique take on the classic white grape, with some producers leaning more towards light, crisp styles, while others specialize in fuller-bodied and oakier expressions.

No matter what style you prefer, South African Chardonnay is sure to offer a pleasant experience for any wine lover. With its bright acidity and beautiful fruit notes, this classic white grape is the perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes or simply enjoyed on its own.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular and widely planted white wines in South Africa. It is a crisp, refreshing, and aromatic variety that is perfect for drinking on its own or pairing with light dishes.

When grown in cooler regions of the country, Sauvignon Blanc can show notes of freshly cut grass, bell pepper, green figs, citrus fruits, and hints of blackcurrant. The acidic nature of Sauvignon Blanc makes it ideal for pairing with seafood and light salads.

From the sunny vineyards of Stellenbosch to the cool maritime climate of Elgin Valley, Sauvignon Blanc wines are always a pleasure to drink. Whether you’re looking for a bottle to share with friends on a summer’s day or as a gift for someone special, Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa is a great choice.


Semillon is one of South Africa’s most popular white wines. It has a fresh, crisp taste and an aromatic bouquet with notes of citrus, honey, and herbaceous aromas. The taste can range from dry to sweet, depending on the grape variety used. Its light body and medium acidity make it a great choice for any occasion. This wine pairs well with fish, poultry, or salads. It also makes a wonderful aperitif or accompaniment to spicy dishes. Semillon from South Africa is usually pale straw in colour but can vary depending on the production method. The best way to experience this wonderful wine is to find a bottle that has been aged for at least two years, as this will bring out its full potential. Enjoy this delightful wine on its own or with a meal – it’s sure to delight!


Pinotage is a unique South African wine varietal, created in 1925 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It is known for its intense fruit flavours and earthy undertones, often likened to a combination of smoke and leather. This complex flavour profile makes it an interesting wine that pairs well with many dishes.

On the nose, expect aromas of dark cherries, plums, cassis, and baking spices such as cloves and nutmeg. The palate will reveal more dark fruit flavours like blackberries, along with notes of chocolate, smoke, leather, and earth. Its medium-bodied texture and moderate tannins make it a great option for pairing with red meats and richer dishes like braised short ribs or a classic Bolognese.

When selecting a Pinotage, look for wines from the Swartland or Stellenbosch regions for a great example of this unique varietal. Wines from these areas tend to have softer tannins and juicy fruit flavours, making them easy to enjoy on their own or with food. There are some notable producers making wonderful wines in this region, so keep an eye out for them when searching for a great bottle.


Merlot is a popular red wine that hails from the Bordeaux region of France, but it has also become popular in South Africa. This variety of grape is one of the most widely planted throughout the country and is used to produce a wide range of delicious and complex wines. Merlot has a deep garnet colour and an aroma of ripe blackberries, cherries, plums, and dried herbs. On the palate, Merlot offers flavours of currants, dried plums, sweet tobacco, spice, and earthy notes. It is a medium-bodied wine with good acidity and soft tannins that make it enjoyable to drink young. Merlot pairs well with dishes such as red meats, game, hearty stews, and aged cheeses. When aged in oak barrels, Merlot can develop a more complex flavour profile with nuances of cedar, leather, and tobacco.


Shiraz is a red grape variety that is popularly grown in South Africa and is used to produce full-bodied, bold wines with intense aromas. The flavour profile of Shiraz wines usually includes notes of blackberries, plums, pepper, spices, and a hint of oak. These wines have medium to high tannins and a deep ruby colour that gives them an overall robust finish. Shiraz wines pair well with bold dishes such as red meats, beef bourguignon, and barbecued pork. Many South African winemakers are producing excellent examples of Shiraz, such as those from Boplaas, Groot Constantia, and Graham Beck Wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon

When it comes to South African wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most well-known and widely grown grapes. This full-bodied, robust red wine varietal can be found in many vineyards across the country. South African Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its deep, intense colour and its bold, tannic flavour profile. On the palate, you can expect notes of blackberry, cassis, and liquorice, with a hint of spice and earthiness. When aged in oak, you can also find hints of tobacco, smoke, and leather.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a great option for red meat dishes, as the tannins help to cut through the fat and add balance to the dish. It pairs well with lamb, beef, and pork, as well as dishes featuring mushrooms, black olives, or gamey meats. Cabernet Sauvignon also goes great with strong cheeses such as cheddar and blue cheese.

If you’re looking for a classic, full-bodied South African red wine that will pair well with your next meal, then look no further than a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. You won’t regret it!