Red grapeOoh now this is difficult. So how to present to you a grape that I really struggle to like. But then again there are plenty of people around who do like it. So I’ll just put myself in their mind set and go for it.

So Pinotage is native to South Africa and originally a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault – so essentially a baby of those two grapes. But the weird thing is that it doesn’t taste like either grape to me. I guess that sometimes happens when you meet people’s kids too and think – “how did that happen”. Cinsault and Pinot are essentially delicate and light but Pinotage is inky dark in colour with a rich tannic structure and very intense flavours. So this is a red for lovers of a full bodied super charged flavoured wine.

Flavours tend to be rich and plummy like a ripe merlot but also there can be a banana skin aroma and earthy character to it that adds more savoury umami dimensions. It picks up that very typical smoky rubber note that can be found in many South African wines, something some people are more sensitive to; hence the marmite factor.

The Facts

Pinotage like its father Cinsault is very productive which can mean lots of juice and not much concentration. In recent years high quality winemakers have focused on reducing yields and more careful winemaking to produce wines with richness, but balanced tannins. The grape is naturally low in acidity and due to the warm climate most winemakers in South Africa will acidify it.


Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon

Classic Regions

South Africa: Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Swartland

Other: New Zealand, USA, Israel, Brazil

Food Matches

Barbecue meats, dried or cured meats (biltong), Peking duck, sweet & sour pork, Tex Mex, pizza