In my journey of discovery, I have learned a lot about different types of non-alcoholic wine and where it comes from. Fortunately for you, I have stamped my passport and can now share my new knowledge of South Africa with you.
1. Grapes are not native to South Africa
Since the Dutch introduced vines in the 1600s, winemaking has become an established industry and these days a staggering 122,000 hectares are dedicated to vineyards across more than 2,600 farms and 536 wineries.
2. South Africa is the world’s eighth-largest wine producer
While behind iconic wine producers such as Italy, France and Spain, South Africa is among the top eight wine-producing nations. We don’t have statistics on non-alcoholic wines yet, but we do know that South African winemakers such as Two Hoots wine, Natura and Absolute Zero have been at the forefront of non-alcoholic wine development. In fact, when it comes to imports, Two Hoots non-alcoholic wines are among the best on the market.
3. Most of South Africa’s wine production takes place in the Cape
Unlike Australia’s wine regions, which are located all around Australia, historically, the heart of South African wine has been the Cape Peninsula and Cape Town. This area is home to three of South Africa’s major wine regions, Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl.
4. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most popular wine
Sometimes referred to in South Africa as ‘Steen’, Chenin Blanc accounts for 18 per cent of plantings. A good Chenin Blanc is a dry wine with floral and honeyed aromas along with some good acidity on the finish.
Try this — Two Hoots Chenin blanc was produced in the Darling wine district of the Western Cape. It is an excellent non-alcoholic version of the Chenin Blanc wine South Africa is famous for.
5. White wine has always been predominant in South Africa
White wine accounts for 55.1 per cent of plantings. As well as Chenin Blanc wine, South Africa is known for Colombad, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay which are also popular in South Africa.
Try this — Absolute Zero Dry is a non-alcoholic Sparkling white wine made with Chardonnay grapes featuring aromas of tropical fruits and fine bubbles. It is also very low in sugar with just 1.3g per 100.
6. Red wine is becoming more popular
While not as historically significant as white wine, South African red wines have taken off in the last decade and red wine now accounts for around 45 per cent of plantings, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot being the most popular varieties. The best red wine in South Africa is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Try this — Two Hoots Cabernet Sauvignon is a South African non-alcoholic red wine that is rich in tannins and features notes of sun-ripened cherries, dark chocolate and plum.
7. Pinotage is a red wine that is unique to South Africa
Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault and was developed by Abraham Perold, Stellenbosch’s first professor of viticulture. It is described as a deep red wine with high tannins and smoky dark fruit flavours. It is said to be quite polarising — you either love it, or you hate it.
8. Almost all of South Africa’s wine is produced sustainably
In 2010, South Africa introduced a label, known as ‘The Seal’ to certify if a wine has been produced in line with sustainable wine-growing techniques and bottled within the nation's borders.
Try this — Produced by B Corp certified company Thomson & Scott, Noughty Rouge Syrah non-alcoholic red wine is made in the Darling wine district. It features notes of ripe fruit and crushed black pepper and French oak tannins.
9. South African wine didn’t take off until the 1990s
Although winemaking in South Africa dates all the way back to 1659, it wasn’t embraced by the world until the end of apartheid in 1994. With the lifting of global trade sanctions, the South African wine industry boomed.
10. South Africa’s climate is perfect for winemaking
South Africa’s climate is often described as Mediterranean. This, along with its mountains and relative proximity to the ocean, is ideal for winemaking. Each region enjoys its own microclimate, for example, the Stellenbosch region, one of the best wine regions in South Africa, is relatively hot and dry with granite and sandstone soils, exposed hills, sheltered valleys and winter rainfall.
Try this — Leopard's Leap Natura Classic Red Wine is a non-alcoholic red wine made in the Stellenbosch region. It’s a blend of Cinsaut and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and features aromas of red berries and sweet spice.
I hope that I’ve given you a bit of a taste for South African wine-making and inspired you to try some of the best non-alcoholic wine from the Western Cape. If you haven’t already signed up to my loyalty club, please do as I will be sharing special offers and promotions including the Two Hoots range — my favourite non-alcoholic wines from South Africa!