The perfect wine pairings for a braai
What wine friends should you invite to your braai?
The appropriate wine pairing complements both the flavour of the food and the wine. While red meat is traditionally flame-grilled fare, modern braais accommodate seafood, vegetables, chicken, pork and venison.
Heritage Day – or Braai Day, as it's also known – is on 24 September. It is a celebration of diversity, tradition, culture and everything that makes each South African unique.
While you may know what you want to cook, you may need some help deciding what to drink, but there are no real mistakes here. The message of the day is that being unique is what makes this country special. Allow our 'wine guest list' to serve as a fun guide.
Cabernet Sauvignon – The People-pleaser
Cabernet Sauvignon is often referred to as a people-pleaser because it's well-liked and can turn any red meat – and even a mushroom kebab – into a feast. As a full-bodied wine with robust character, it stands up well against matured beef or flavourful lamb. If you want to go 'proudly South African', include a Pinotage. The wine's inherent smokiness and rich, fruity flavours pair well with the traditional spices used in boerewors and to season chops.
Sauvignon Blanc – The Socialite
Fresh, crisp, well-chilled and always assertive, the bright, zesty flavours of lemon, fig and guava found in Sauvignon Blanc complement chicken and fish particularly well. If your white meat is spicy from a dry rub or even a tikka marinade, the herbaceous character of a chilled Sauvignon Blanc will temper the heat and bring out the flavours of the dish.
Chenin Blanc – The Networker
This is the kind of wine that works the room – or the backyard in the case of a braai. Snacks like chip and dip, nuts, biltong and paté on a salty cracker need a liquid accompaniment, and this is where Chenin truly sparkles. Its broad flavour profile includes ripe pear, ginger, granadilla, quince and honey, which result in a well-balanced wine that pairs well with foods that have similar qualities.
Merlot – The Friend of a Friend
This wine isn't always on everyone's list when planning a braai, but starchy dishes like garlic bread and a charcoal-cooked spud compliment a wine that's light and easy, and full of warm vanilla notes. The tannin structure is lighter than that found in a Cabernet Sauvignon, so it's less astringent. However, it's full of plum and oak, which hold up well against starches. The unforgettable character makes it a firm favourite to invite back again and again.
Sparkling Wine or Méthod Cap Classique – The Speech-maker
There's one at every braai – the self-appointed host with a sparkling personality and a reason to say 'cheers' to everyone. There's so much to celebrate about the bubbly character of Méthode Cap Classique or sparkling wine because its inherent traits are effervescence and happiness. Whether you choose pink or pearl, dry or sweet, it's a winner from the start of the occasion until the last guest leaves with their leftovers wrapped in foil.
Happy Heritage Day!