A Wine Lover’s Grape Guide to South Africa

A Wine Lover’s Grape Guide to South Africa

South Africa has become one of the world’s best-loved wine regions, producing award-winning bottles every year.

Here’s a list of red and white wines the country is most famous for


South Africa's Syrah is treasured for its dark spiced fruit flavours and chocolate-like richness. That said, this red grape grows throughout the country, meaning local wines come in a wide range of styles. Cooler regions like Paarl and Stellenbosch produce more savoury wines, while dry areas such as Robertson and the Swartland make more richly intense Syrahs.



Pinotage is South Africa’s own grape variety. A cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, this particular red wine has raspberry to blueberry fruit flavours, as well as spiced chocolate and tobacco. It’s typically denser, higher in alcohol and more savoury than Pinot Noir.



Often called accessible or fruit-forward, Merlot is a good place to start if you’re new to drinking red wine. This easy-drinking wine lacks the sometimes-challenging savoury flavours of a Cabernet Sauvignon, and pairs well with a variety of dishes – particularly tender red meat. A good-quality Merlot ordinarily has a purple-ish colour.



Winemakers use both white and red grapes in the production process and, through various methods, give Rosé its distinctive pink colour. Sometimes called summer water, this wine style suits whimsical, carefree occasions like impromptu picnics.


Sauvignon Blanc

Since this white grape grows all over the world, flavours tend to vary from one wine region to the next. In South Africa’s case, the wine’s zesty, fruit-flavoured and grassy taste makes it similar to New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc.


Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted white grape in South Africa. It qualifies as a dry white wine, and its flavour profile includes passion fruit, apple, pear and peach.



Chardonnay is a cool climate white grape, meaning that many of South Africa’s regions aren’t well suited to growing it. But, the coastline along the South is. The flavour profile of local Chardonnays ranges from lemon to pineapple, depending on the ripeness of the grape.