Wine Tasting 101: A first-timer’s tips for Wine Tasting!

Whether you’re a Mother City local or frequent Cape Town flier, chances are you’ve gone wine tasting. And if you’ve not, well, did you even go to Cape Town?? Just kidding! But then I suggest you do it, like really soon.
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One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Cape Town was that in order to walk the Cape Town walk, you need to be able to talk the Cape Town talk – and in Cape Town they talk about WINE! Wine is to a Capetonian what Kale is to a health enthusiast – they’ll rave about it, praise it and reveal all sorts of benefits and incredible facts about it. Yes, they consider themselves wine experts, and you know what? They actually are! And why’s that do you ask – Well, mainly because they’ve tasted a WHOLE lot of it! And the only way one gets the opportunity to taste so much wine is to go wine tasting! So today I thought I’d share a couple of beginner wine tasting tips that I learnt from my very first wine farm experience:

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My favourite wine from @beauconstantia was the Lucca 2014. Its R245 a bottle and easy to see why. A Bordeaux-style blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Only 25 barrels were produced from 9 to 10 year old vines, all planted on Beau Constantia farm itself. ______________________________ The grapes were hand-picked and berry sorted before being fermented. Maturation occurred in 225 litre French oak barrels (95% new and 5% second fill) for 18 months prior to bottling. It’s a big bold red that’s well rounded in fruit, tannin and oak characteristics. A wine you can keep to mature a little longer. 🍷👌 ________________________________ @constantia_wine_route #loveconstantia #constantia #beauconstantia #southafricanwine #sawine #wosa #luccawine #bordeauxwine #thewinegirlcapetown #winelover #winetime #wineofsouthafrica #winetastingcapetown #winetastingsouthafrica #winetastingconstantia

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  • Prepare yourself, it’s going to be a bumpy ride: They say you never forget your first, well, when it comes to wine tasting you actually just might! Yip, I’m not kidding! Think back to your first wine tasting experience – do you remember ALL of it? Yes, I thought so! Let’s break it down, I don’t consider myself a drinking lightweight, but WOW, I was struggling. Depending on which option you choose, there’s about to be a whole lot of wine coming your way! LIKE A WHOLE LOT! And being a first timer, you might not exactly know how much. So, here’s the tip, pace yourself! Trust me, the amount of wine in that glass might seem far too little (I remember eyeing the poor guy as he was pouring my wine and giving him the ‘SERIOUSLY, is that all wine you’re going to give me??’ stare), but, yes, trust them, they know what they’re doing!



  • The bucket is there for a reason: We’ve all seen it before, whether in real life or on an episode of The Real Housewives (well, they might just be DRINKING a lot of wine, and not tasting it, but oh well!), a wine connoisseur sipping, swirling and sniffing a glass of vino, considering each step like it may contain the answer to ‘why the chicken crossed the road’ or even the true meaning of life. Only to actually spit it all into the bucket at the end! BUT WHY?? Who would waste such a precious and cherished commodity?? Well, here’s the truth – Seasoned sippers know it’s essential to expectorate when tasting a whole bunch of wine. If you swirl your glass, take a sniff, sip, swish, and then spit, you’re still going to get a sense of the wine. You taste the wine. It’s a wine TASTING, after all, not an all-you-can-drink liquid buffet. Well, for me it certainly was! Just being honest here! So, what I concluded was this; it totally depends on your wine tasting intentions – If a TASTING is what you’re looking for then DEFINITELY use the bucket. BUT, if you’re looking to have a grand’ol time, get SUPER jolly and see how much wine you can actually tolerate at one go then HAVE AT IT LADIES & GENTS, this is your time to shine!


  • Line your stomach: Drinking tip 101: NEVER consume a whole lot of alcohol on an empty stomach! Yes, all the incredible tasting platters and pairing options are there for a reason. It gives you something to nibble on! Plus, most of the wine estates actually have spectacular award-winning Restaurant options on their premises. And believe me; I now know their food is deliciously-mouth-wateringly-GOOD! The first time however our designated driver (thank goodness we had one) had to stop and get Chinese food on the way home! But I’ve never made this mistake again.


  • Be open to a journey wine discovery and new tastes: So, I’m a white wine lover! Bring on the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc and I’m in my HAPPY PLACE! Like, REALY happy place! But red wine, not so much! And if you select one of the options that contain a list of recommended pre-selected wines, it will contain a whole lot of red wine too! And instead of taking a sip of my various selections of red wine, tasting it and appreciating it, I chose to gulp it all down as fast as possible just to get it over with! Weeeell, let me tell you – this is NOT the way to do it folks, red wine is strong, like really strong. I have consequently learnt to sip and appreciate ALL the different wines presented to me, it really is a journey of exploration and discovery you should definitely be open to. Each one offers something different and unique, it really is pretty cool! So I definitely recommend you open yourself up to the whole wine journey. But okay, I still tend to gulp down and finish the ones I really like in record time; I’m not a completely changed woman yet!


  • Prepare to see your family members, or whoever your lucky wine-tasting-partners-in-crime are, in a whole new light: If you think I was struggling, then WOW, you should have seen my poor mother (sorry for calling you out mom!). Yes, my first wine tasting experience was a family affair, and what an affair it was indeed! This is also a tip to choose your companions wisely – choose people that are really up to having a good time and revel in the experience, but just be prepared to see them let loose, like really loose! And while you’re at it select a designated driver beforehand too! Or make use of any of the other transport options available. While you should DEFINITELY have a great time, it’s always important to be responsible!
  • Make sure you get the FULL experience: You know what I learnt – most wine farms offer a whole lot more than JUST sensational wine! So do a bit of research beforehand and make a mental note of all the recommended attraction you should visit while you’re there. Plus, with SO MANY wine farms in the Western Cape you’re guaranteed to find one, or 25, that peak your interest! But don’t worry; you have the rest of your life to go explore all of them!

You know what they say, the glass can be half full or half empty, as long as there’s WINE in it! Well, they might not say that, but I certainly do! Now, go have some wine, you definitely deserve it!

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Bianca Bunge

View posts by Bianca Bunge
I'm a 27 year old Cape Town based, aspiring writer. The truth is I love writing and creating, because creating something that didn’t exist before is as close to MAGIC as you’ll ever get. Tobias Wolf once said, a TRUE piece of writing is a dangerous thing, it can CHANGE your life. And this is exactly what happened to me. I fell in love with what writing can do. How it can inspire. How it can empower. How it can change people’s perspectives. How it allows you to escape. Writing is magic. Writing is my WHY! But besides that I also love the ocean, smarties, & wine, I REALLY love wine! Oh, and my cat Oreo is a champ!
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