South African Cuisine: Food with spice and wine that’s nice!


What do you know about South African wine? What about South African cuisine? Have you ever tasted either?

If you are typical Americans like Que Syrah Sue and I, you may never have had wine or food from the region! While I had tasted wine in Egypt when I went there January 2011 just before the revolution, I don’t think I’ve had wine from that continent.

But this is changing rapidly as more wine is produced for export. You can even find tasty, inexpensive South African wine at Trader Joes like the one below.


When I heard that Wine Pairing Weekend was focusing on South African wine and food to pair with it, Sue and I got very excited: we had recently tasted and wrote about South African Sauvignon blanc wines for Sauvignon Blanc day, and we were eager to try more!

Sue in particular was engaged by the jalapeño jelly notes in the wines and we were curious how that herbal spiciness might play itself out in other wines from the region.

Right away I contacted the media agency who had sent me the first wines asking if they could send me any others –and they said yes!

Sue got right on to researching the foods and what she found in general is a cuisine that focuses on root vegetables, slow cooked and cured meats, and lots of spices typically found in what most people would consider “Indian” cuisine.or south east Asian. Once we started thinking about it, and Sue experimented with the recipes, we thought about the relationship between spicy cuisine and hot climates, plus the large influx of South East Asians to South Africa.

Finally, we realized how much it made sense to braise meats in a pot then layer root and other vegetables plus spices and let something cook outside on the fire all day.

Food with spice and wine that’s nice! That’s what South African cuisine is made of!

We really did wonder though how well those spicy foods would pair with the wines, but once again, we found how well regional cuisine pairs with regional wines.

Note: I am posting this from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi and I will add the links to more recipes as soon as I can get them from Sue and incorporate them!


Sincerely – 2015 – Sauvignon Blanc – A fine wine by Neil Ellis – 13% Alcohol – $10
with cheese plate, sausages, samosas

This has a great jalapeño jelly nose and finish. Sue loves this flavor profile in South African Sauvignon Blancs.

Color is lighter than straw, silvery, more white gold than silver.

On the nose,  at first typical Sauvignon blanc citrus; kifer lime notes, a bit of jalapeño pepper jelly smell because of the sweetness of the fruit, tomatillo: almost like putting your nose in a bowl of green salsa!

On the palette, fresh crisp, lime and jalapeño jelly.

We thought this would be a nice taco wine, especially with chicken street tacos or chile verde or asada. It also goes well with the sweet spicy flavors the South African cuisine when we tried it with the later dishes.

For 10 dollars we did not expect as much flavor or complexity. This is a fun, inexpensive introduction to South African wine and an alternative to the typical Sauvignon blanc.

Foods we paired it with: Indian Samosas from Himlaya restaurant, dried beef from local Watkins Ranch, sausages, and cheese.


BBQ sausages: Jalapeno Cheddar and chorizo from Watkins Ranch, Gouda Wild Rice, Artichoke Feta, Tom Garlic, Blue Cheese and Bacon from the Butcher Shop. These four sausages are just a few of the many varieties they make. A new location will be opening up in Camarillo soon and is definitely something to look forward to; they have been a favorite of the local community in OakView Ca. and visitors heading for Lake Casitas for many years

Oven Dried Tomato over goat cheese- this wine went great with this appetizer! Goat cheese is a classic pair with sauv blanc and this worked once again (Recipe here for oven dried tomatoes — too good and seasonal now!)

While the Sauv blanc is great, other wines went better with the foods. Traditional SB foods should be done with this wine: goat cheese, pesto, oysters; it was fabulous with the samosa with the mint and tamarind sauces.

This would be a great wine for an Indian restaurant to carry as it should go well with many Indian Food profiles.

This wine was a sample for review purposes.


Mulderbosch – Cabernet Sauvignon Rose – 2015 – 12.5% alcohol – $8.99 at Trader Joe’s
with Salad of Spring Green, Beet, Goat Cheese, with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil

This wine went with everything and is a great wine to have around at that price.

The label will catch your attention, and then the color through the clear glass bottle: this is a really pretty wine, the color of watermelon juice, a bit dense in color for a rose, nice and pink.

The nose has a bread yeast quality, plus watermelon, melon, floral notes of rose or violet; I got more fruit than floral while Sue got more floral than fruit.

The palette has strawberry and kiwi on the front with watermelon on the finish. This wine moves really nicely across your tongue. Great wine for this price point. Great flavor, great color, screw top and easy to enjoy.

Rose with the beet salad was wonderful, Rose with the sausage was fantastic, It went with every well with everything but was not the best wine in the lineup. For the price and its versatility, it was a great wine. We also liked the Sauv Blanc from Mulderbosch. At $8.99 how can you go wrong? Not a  lot of complexity, but it has a nice flavor profile. It would be really nice as a sparkling wine.

Sue found this wine at Trader Joe’s; we received a sample for review purposes of the Sauv Blanc which you can read about here.


Maestro White – 2014 – 14% alcohol – $25
with Chicken Potjiekos

A blend of Roussanne 26%, Chardonnay 25%, Grenache Blanc 19%, Chenin Blanc 17%,and Viognier 13% this blend reminds us how blends are nice because they have a lot of complexity. This is a more expensive wine and has a more expensive bottle with a nicer look, and I bet you could lay this one down for a few years, too.

Color is yellow straw, basic color of a white wine. not too golden and not too pale.

On the nose, grass and minerals, vegetal, cucumber,

The palette offers  tangelo, tangerine, or lime on the front of the mouth, basil, with cucumber on the finish.

Maestro went really well with the Chicken Potjiekos, which is what we were hoping for. Salad was better with the Rose and the Red wine, but we did goat cheese and the beets, which went better with others.

This wine was the wine that tied everything together in our meal.


Nice complexity, nice nose, nice body, this wine went better with the Bootie because it mingled and married with the spices, It went with the sweeter side of savory and the savory side of sweet, There is an earthy, savory, sweet quality to their food and this wine stands up to it. This white wine handles all of the complexity and richness of the food.

The Maestro does not taste like a white blend that we have ever had before and distinctly it goes very well with foods that have spice without being sweet to compliment them.


Chicken Potijekos is a layered dish that is so wonderful and easy to prepare: just layer ingredients and add spices and wine then roast in a cast pot, letting the wonderful flavors develop. (Recipe)

We wondered if the flavor profile of the wine has to do with the elevation. Lots to learn about this region!

This wine was a sample for review purposes.


Warwick Estate – Three Cape Ladies – 2012 – 13% alcohol – under $30
Bobotie, with Cape Malay Yellow Rice

The three cape ladies are 40% Pinotage, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah.

Our food pairing was Bobotie, with Cape Malay Yellow Rice but because of the spices in this the dish it did not go with the red at all. It needs to be paired with either of the white wines that we  had to drink

In color, a deep rich ruby like, jewel tone, very vibrant in color.

Nose has oak, cedar, cigar, leather, vanilla, It is not a barnyard, it is more of the barn without the funk of the yard.


Palette has a lot of tannin, with bright cherry; Cabernet really comes out in this wine. In general more red fruit as opposed to blue fruit, red plums, just before you get to the pucker finish. The tart plum skin is in the front of the palette.

This wine needs meat on the grill or braised need a big beefy thing with fat, Ostrich on the grill, wild boar, It went okay with the beet salad and was good with the root vegetables of the Chicken Potjiekos.

This is not like an Australian, wine, it is not like a South American wine, nor is it like a New Zealand, It is very unique to South America. FUN!!

This is a 2012; we think it could lay down for a couple of years. In a couple of days of being open, this wine continued to improve.


This wine was a sample for review purposes.

We definitely want to learn more! Sue made A LOT of food for our two families and we all enjoyed the leftovers. As the flavors integrated more, the leftovers got better and better! We drank the whites and rose quickly, and the Cape May got better and better until it was all gone! I’d love to see how the two more expensive blends develop over the years.

South Africa wine and food is a region to watch!

South African Wine Pairings

Here is a look at the wines and pairings the Wine Pairing Weekend group explored this month!

Coming Up for #WinePW

Our September #winePW theme will be “Grüner Veltliner Pairings,” on September 10th, 2016. The event will be hosted by Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, so keep an eye out for details!

For a list of past and upcoming #winePW event, visit the Wine Pairing Weekend calendar. We’d love to have you online with us!

7 thoughts on “South African Cuisine: Food with spice and wine that’s nice!

  1. What a feast! Wine & spice go nice! Love the exploration you had this month of wine and food pairings from South Africa. It gave a real sense of how the spices in the food melded into the perfect pairing with the wines. Cheers!


  2. Pingback: Frikkadel with Sheba Sauce • Curious Cuisiniere

  3. Pingback: Turmeric Spiced Steak and South African Wine Pairings #winePW | Cooking Chat

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