Wine of the Week: Buy South African

The South African wine industry has taken a devastating hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s government has twice imposed a ban on the domestic sale of alcohol, and all wine exports were even halted for a time. Many wineries are struggling to survive. The industry has started a social media campaign with the hashtag #drinksouthafrican.

So that’s what I’m asking you to do. Buy a bottle (or two, or a case) of South African wine. One suggestion is the 2019 Essay Chenin Blanc ($10). The wine, which also includes 13 percent viognier and 9 percent roussanne in the blend, displays the racy green apple flavors often associated with chenin, while the viognier and roussanne add floral notes and fleshiness. The name “Essay” is a play on “SA,” or South Africa.

Even if you can’t find this specific wine, pick up something else. Chenin blanc is usually a good choice, as is sauvignon blanc. If you’re a fan of bubbly, consider South Africa’s méthode cap classique (MCC), a sparkling wine made in the traditional method, like Champagne. Red wine lovers can try pinotage, a signature grape for the country, or perhaps a cabernet sauvignon.

A lot of wine shops don’t offer many South African bottles, and you probably won’t have any luck in supermarkets. One online source for many South African wines is Cape Ardor. Click here to go to the site.