The World of Wine & Spirits from HEMANT SINGH

Beverages are potable drinks which have thirst-quenching, refreshing, stimulating and nourishing qualities. By refreshing, one means the replenishment of fluid loss from the body due to perspiration. Simulation results in increase of the heart beat and blood pressure. This is due to the intake of spirits (alcohol) or tea (thein) and coffee (coffein). Nourishment is provided by the nutrients in the beverages, especially fruit juices. Most of the beverages supply energy in the form of sugar or
alcohol. They also provide other nutrients like mineral salts and vitamins. For example, milk gives calcium and citrus fruits give vitamin C.
Generally, people drink for one or more of six reasons; to quench thirst, to get drunk, to enjoy a social setting (social drinking), to enjoy the taste of the beverage, to feed an addiction (alcoholism), or as part of a religious or traditional ceremony or custom (proposing toast).


ROBERTSON and a few other villages lie along a fertile, if warm, valley where white wines such as chardonnay (from De Wetshof Estate) and sparkling wine (from Graham Beck Winery) used to be the main stars. Today the move is to red varieties, especially shiraz (Zandvliet).

STELLENBOSCH is, in the minds of many, the finest wine area in South Africa, claiming the crown for reds. With a list of more than 80 wineries and producers, it is also the most expensive wine farmland. Nearly all the most famous international names in South African wines are found here in an area reaching from sea-facing slopes to valley-hugging hills. This is the home of Kanonkop, Meerlust, Rustenberg, Thelema and Warwick. The list is endless. This is also where Distell, the country’s largest player in the drinks market, is seated. Designated wards within the district are Jonkershoek Valley, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Bottelary, Devon Valley and Papegaaiberg. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinotage and chenin blanc are the stars here.

SWARTLAND means “black country”, a traditional sunny wheat area north of Cape Town. These days, wineries are making modern, well-appreciated white wines here with top reds on the way. The Darling region especially is on the roll.
WALKER BAY near the coastal town of Hermanus has become another of the Cape’s most fashionable regions. With Elgin to the west and Bot River inland, it falls under the Overberg appellation. It is the home of Cape pinot noir and good chardonnay and home to places like Hamilton-Russell.
WORCESTER and surrounds comprise 20% of all South Africa’s vineyards. Brandy is produced, and wine for wholesalers. Small volumes are bottled under own labels. Value-for-money is a hallmark. 


PAARL is another of the Cape’s historic towns where wine has been made for centuries. Home to the original KWV head office and its impressive Cathedral Cellar, as well as the country’s best-known brand Nederburg, many cellars, small and large, from boutique to co-operative, produce wine from the ordinary to the sensational. Winemakers have been concentrating on shiraz, but some fine chenin blanc, pinotage, cabernet sauvignon, blends, and even unusual varieties such as viognier and mourvèdre are turned into prize-winning wines. Glen Carlou, Villiera and the value-for-money co-operative Boland Kelders are among the top performers here.