Turnkey project to make Cape wine even more visitor-friendly

Monday, 31 January, 2022
Wines of South Africa, Clifford Roberts
South Africa’s winelands have always professed to welcome all. An initiative focused on language rather than tourism or wine, however, promises to take this hospitality and the wine industry in general to new heights.

A series of workshops with mother-tongue speakers of Shona, Zulu and Xhosa that lay the groundwork to make wine appreciation more widely accessible, has just been concluded. Led by the South African Chenin Blanc Association, a sector interest group, and several industry stakeholders, the project involves a re-interpretation of traditional wine descriptions. 

The initiative is important because it recognises more regionally appropriate wine descriptions than those traditionally used by wine educators and professionals. In most settings - from upmarket restaurants to wine shows, tutored tastings to winery tasting rooms – sensory wine descriptions are necessarily narrow. Typical aroma and flavour characteristics are often linked to styles and winemaking techniques. Using terms familiar to the speakers makes for better communication of ideas.

While advancing the understanding, however, these descriptions can also be exclusionary - particularly to newcomers with little or no knowledge of wine. This holds true not only in a country as diverse as South Africa but also in a world where more people are being exposed to wine through cheaper and easier travel (under normal circumstances) and digital technology. 

The problem is that wine descriptions are commonly associated with specific fruits, vegetables and natural environments like “forest floor”, “peaches” or “strawberries” - even though many of these only occur in certain parts of the world.

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Turnkey project to make Cape wine even more visitor-friendly
Turnkey project to make Cape wine even more visitor-friendly

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