What is better than sipping top South African wines in a beautiful setting? Pairing their flavours with delicious bites, of course.
What started out as a venture to complement the perfect wine with the best food combination, has turned into an exciting bucket list experience in the South African winelands.
And don’t just think cheese and biscuits. These days you can pair a long list of wines and Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) varietals with anything from cupcakes, nougat and macaroons, to biltong, fynbos and even music.
Whether you want to finely balance or contrast complex components, or just have a ball of a time to share on social media, you’ll find your perfect match at one of these 20 South African wine farms.
Stellenbosch Wine Route
1. Chocolate and Wine, Waterford
Whenever you mention Waterford Estate to anyone, chances are that they will reply with that majestic word — ‘chocolate’.
Chocolate and Waterford are synonymous and it’s for good reason. Their flawless combination wasn’t an overnight throw-together. Their renowned winemaker, Kevin Arnold, worked closely with Belgian Chocolatier, Richard von Geusau, to create three chocolates that would perfectly fit a selection of their wines.
A spicy Shiraz is matched with Masala Chai Dark Chocolate, and their Cabernet Sauvignon meets the mysterious flavours of Rock Salt Dark Chocolate. End on a sweet note with Rose Geranium Milk Chocolate mingling flavours with their natural sweet desert wine.
2. Nougat and MCC, Villiera
Blissful bubbles meet delicious delicacies. This family-owned winery specialises in the beautiful art of making some of the best Méthode Cap Classique in the country.
To harmonise perfectly with a selection of Villiera’s sparkling wines, they are pairing it with a variety of deliciously chewy nougat.
The tangy hints from Grier Brut is balanced with honey, almond and cranberry nougat, whilst the fruity Villiera Tradition Brut is matched with a macadamia nougat to add a creamy characteristic.
The earthy almond nougat is best suited for the Monro Brut, oh and you’ll love the goji berry, almond and rooibos tea nougat as a blush companion for the Tradition Brut Rose.
3. Ice-cream, Wine and MCC, Clos Malverne
It might sound pretty odd pairing a freezing desert with wine, but there is a reason that this has become the estate’s signature tasting experience.
Four heavenly homemade scoops of gourmet ice cream are presented in ramekins facing its partner wine, betrothed to complement each others’ best qualities.
The ice cream flavour combinations change with the season, but you can count on finding a variety of fresh fruity flavours (to match the Sauvignon Blanc Brut), creamy buttery ones in the mix (to go with their red varieties) and a spicy addition (to pair with the Muscat).
And don’t think “chocolate and vanilla," we’re talking churned epicurean delights, like their “Parsnip, saffron, salted caramel and pumpkin seeds” option, currently on the line-up.
4. Cape Fynbos and Wine, Bartinney
Did you know that fynbos, the vegetation type found only in the Cape region, is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site? That’s right, the Cape Floral Region, is officially one of the most special places on earth and lucky us, many of South Africa's wine farms are nestled in between.
So it’s only fair that there is a multi-sensory wine experiences as a tribute to fynbos, right?
For a one-of-a-kind occasion, book a spot at this interactive tasting as you incorporate touch, smell, sight and taste to blend the flavours of the farm’s fynbos with three Bartinney wines.
Another great pairing is the setting of the tasting room and its environment in the Helshoogte Pass, boasting one of the most beautiful views in the valley.
5. Boerebraai Tapas and Wine, Middelvlei
Now this is a pairing that happens informally in thousands of South African households over weekends: braai and wine.
For a taste of authentically traditional food prepared on an open fire and accompanied by a great selection of Middelvlei wines, this is the place to be.
In a relaxed farm-setting you can enjoy local favourites like mini potbrood (bread) and snoek pâté, boerewors-sosaties (sausage skewers) or a variety of gourmet cheesy braaibroodjies (fire-grilled sandwiches). Their wine tasting list ranges from Chardonnay to Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
If you want to skip the meat, you can opt to pair a variety of braaibroodjies with wine.
To eat and sip like a local, make sure to pay Middelvlei a visit.
6. Flash Food and Slow Wine, Neethlingshof
There’s nothing typical-takeaway about this fast-finger-food offering with a twist.
The uncomplicated bites are packed with flavour, and juxtaposed with wines that have been carefully crafted over a prolonged period of time.
Think vegetable samosas with mango atchar, beef kebabs with roasted tomato, prego rolls with chocolate shavings and a traditional mini malva pudding with a liquorice reduction.
In summer they also dish up salmon and trout roulade (with the Sauvignon Blanc) which is replaced in winter with a hearty tomato soup (with their Chenin Blanc).
The kids get their own pairing too, with pancakes, burgers and sponge fingers served with juices and milkshake.
7. Cupcakes and Wine, Delheim
Back in 1976, Delheim was the very first winery in South Africa to produce a Pinotage Rosé, and it’s been a hit ever since. Fittingly this lovely pink wine is first in line with their smashing gourmet cupcake pairing.
A pomegranate cupcake is set to bring out the fruity flavours of this pioneering wine, whilst the Chenin Blank Wild Ferment’s rich flavours are paired with a delicious rooibos, lemon and honey cream cheese cupcake.
The elegant oak aromas of the Pinotage works well with a pumpkin and vanilla cupcake as it is smartly infused with spices like star anise and cinnamon.
The star of the show is however the scarce varietal, Gewürztraminer, an aromatic white wine reminding of litchis, paired with a Makataan wild melon cupcake.
8. Artisanal Salt and Wine, Fleur du Cap
The chef who initiated this fascinating tasting is worth his salt.
Chef Craig Cormack is so intrigued by the seasoning crystals that he’s already collected 68 of the 161 different types of salt found around the world.
To give you a glimpse of the different salty flavours out there, you can match five different types of savoury bites to complement five of Fleur du Cap’s unfiltered wines.
You’ll start off with dolmades with sulphuric salt to go with their Sauvignon Blanc, and taste some olive tapenade and black lava salt to pair with their Chardonnay.
Their liver paté with Murray River salt is savoured with the Merlot, while the sun-dried tomatoes, cheese and Khoisan salt is best enjoyed with the Cab.
Finally, and obviously, one will have to try the Maldon salted fudge, heavenly paired with their Noble Late Harvest.
Franschhoek Wine Route
9. Pierneef à La Motte and Five Wines, La Motte
For a top class experience, you’ll have to reserve two days in advance to ensure you get a booking at the exclusive Pierneef à La Motte fine food and wine pairing.
The tasting takes place in a private room in the tasting area with the cuisine prepared in the Pierneef à La Motte kitchen — a restaurant that has been listed under the top ten in the country.
You can expect a contemporary take on heritage-based culinary delights, paired with world-renowned wines, all tied together by your professional wine ambassador host, guiding you through the journey.
Adding to the art of it all, the clay serving plates were designed by local ceramicists as their interpretation of each dish.
It’s a delicate experience that will impress even the most difficult of in-laws.
10. Culinaria Food and Wine, Leopard’s Leap
Long forgotten is the stiff-upper-lip perceptions that wine farms used to have in the past.
The Culinaria Food and Wine pairing held on Friday mornings at Leopard’s Leap is a warm and interactive experience. It’s hosted around a long table set right in the middle of the bustling kitchen.
As the sommelier enthusiastically explains the six featured wines one after the other, the chef cooks up a storm to prepare the dish that each one will be paired with. Your nose will do the pairing, before it even lands on your plate.
An immersive experience of note, and everyone is invited, with even the kids feeling at home.
Paarl Wine Route
11. Cheesecake and MCC, Laborie
Okay, wait. Two of the best things that have ever been created, formally placed next to one another to be enjoyed together? Somebody pinch me.
Laborie’s new bubbles and cheesecake pairing is held at the KWV Wine Emporium and is presented in three phases to suit each variety of their popular MCC.
The first round is to accentuate the lemony-lime of the Brut with its orange blossom tinge. Second up is the salmon-coloured sparkling Rosé matched with strawberry cheesecake to bring out its berry deliciousness.
As the cherry on the cake, the rich 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc is delightfully paired with a hazelnut-topped cheesecake, a dream combination.
12. Goats milk cheese and wine, Fairview
Who can resist the addictive taste of creamy cheese?
Fairview is one of the most visited wine farms in the country and their famous drawcard is exactly this: their ever-popular combination of wine and cheese.
During your pairing, you get to taste six estate wines with a selection of recommended goat and cow milk cheeses to match their flavours. From smooth cheeses like Camembert and Brie, to crumbly feta and blue cheese and their famous White Rock fruity cheeses. You will soon discover your favourite.
(Fairview also has a very smooth system to manage large groups, with a variety of tasting areas and pods as well as a tasting-ticketing system, which is convenient.)
Klein Karoo Wine Route
13. Food and Brandy, Barrydale Cellar
If you’re road-tripping down the characteristic Route 62, Barrydale Cellar should be one of the pins added to your map.
Their tasting room and restaurant is a lovely oasis offering three different types of tastings: Southern Cape vineyards wine, their own craft beer, and a selection of brandy.
Their most famous offering is their brandy though, with guests comparing their pot still bottles with some of the best in the world. To compliment the velvety rich aroma and taste of their brandies, expect a taste trifecta starting with pear, nusturtium and prosciutto followed by fig and Gorgonzola paired with an 8 year old Ladismith brandy and finally, an Oude Molen VSOP brandy paired with a smokey chocolate and syrup dessert.
14. Biscotti and Wine, De Krans
Italians are particular about their food and wine, so if they give the nod to their famous biscuit to be paired with wine, there must be something bellisimo to it.
Traditionally though, the hard almond biscotti is dipped in a sweet late-harvest to enjoy as a dessert, but De Krans has refined the combination even further. The chefs and owners have co-created a selection of biscotti to go hand-in-hand with the taste of their wines.
The classic biscotti has the honour of marrying the Moscato, whilst the mixed herb biscotti pairs well with the Pinotage Rosé. The proudly South African biltong biscotti is an interesting salty match for the Touriga Nacional, whose aromas remind of cherry cigar and chocolate.
As a fitting finalé, the De Krans Espresso wine is combined with a coffee biscotti, followed by the rich Cape Vintage paired with an allspice choc-chip biscotti.
Namaqua West-Coast Wine Route
15. Biltong and Wine, Die Keldery
Die Keldery has mastered the perfect balance of hosting a warm and authentic environment, whilst offering modern facilities with delicious food and wine.
Their pairing journeys are fun and interesting, but there’s one problem: how on earth will you be able to choose between chocolate or biltong?
I guess you don’t have to, but the traditional savoury pairing won this time round. Included in the biltong tasting is five different cured meaty bites to pair with Namaqua and Spencer Bay wines. Finger-licking chlli bites, beef biltong, droëwors, cabanossi and BBQ bites go down well with their sweet and dryer wine counterparts.
Oh yes, don’t forget the kids! Let the young ones be entertained by the Master Taster adventure with grape juices and jelly tots.
For more kid-friendly wine estates, click
Durbanville Wine Route
16. Macaroon and MCC, Canto
“Paire parfaite” is French for “the perfect pair” and the term was probably invented to describe two of their finest delicacies: macaroons and champagne.
The South African version of champagne is of course Méthode Cap Classique, and although the winery is brand new, Canto has created four delicious varieties.
In a modern tasting room you get to match their MCC with four distinct flavours of sweet macaroons to enhance your delight.
The Chardonnay MCC Brut is paired with a hazelnut macaroon and highlights the wonderful earthy undertone. The Shiraz Rosé MCC is one of only three of its type in the country and is a very interesting match with the red velvet macaroon. A favourite is the moreish Turkish Delight macaroon with the Pinot Noir MCC and to end it off the classic Chardonnay/Pinot Noir MCC is enjoyed with the salted caramel macaroon.
Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Valley
17. The Story of Creation, Creation Wines
Ladies and gentlemen, the creme de la creme of food and wine pairing in South Africa.
Creation is the trend-setters for pairing experiences, and their “The Story of Creation” is a five-course, eight wine dining affair that will take you through a medley of taste sensations.
Their story has five chapters, starting out on a peachy note, getting heavier and more complex as the plot thickens, before it ends with an elegant touch.
They have more than ten other pairing options available, from vegan to brunch, charcuterie and even alcohol-free.
(Pssst, they’re also winners of the Klink Award for Best Food and Wine Pairing for five years in a row as well as the Best of Wine Tourism Winner for Regional Winner Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences.)
Robertson Wine Route
18. ClemenGold and Wine, Zandvliet
Zesty, aromatic and fresh.
These are all tasting terms that could be used to describe either wine, or ClemenGold, a special type of soft citrus fruit.
That’s why the flavours blend so well. The distinctive taste of the juicy, sun-ripened citrus have been infused into four sweet delicacies that Zandvliet wines are effortlessly pairing with their wines.
The spicy panforte with candied peel matches the golden Chardonnay, The Kalkveld Shiraz works its magic with the biscotti, their special Vintage Liqueur partners with the dark chocolate, and the Muscat is paired with the ClemenGold marmalade.
They say you can’t mix apples and oranges, but grapes and citrus could certainly work.
19. Taste the Difference, Esona
Before going into the details of the multi-faceted pairing, the setting of the tasting is something you should know about. It is one of a kind experience, set in a 95 year old, rustic, dark underground cellar with their 'kuipe' (vintage cement fermentation tanks) still in place.
By candlelight, you get to taste their three soft wines, twice.
Why a second time? Well, they want you to compare the taste of the wine in an ordinary wine glass, with a grape-specific crystal glass, called a ‘riedel’. Apparently the difference is remarkable.
Each of the wines are then also paired with a different confectionary, including Lindt chocolates and local fruit preserves.
But that’s not all. Esona also incorporates your senses of hearing and sight, by playing music to suit each varietal and showcasing an art piece with each tasting. Simon and Garfunkel will match the relaxed Sauvignon Blank, with the Chardonnay leaning towards country music and classical music ending off the Shiraz.
20. Christina Master Tasting, Van Loveren
At Van Loveren the focus is on having a great time.
You can go the relaxed route and enjoy your platter-pairing on your own, or select the tutored option, throwing a wine pairing guide into the equation. Whatever you chose, you’ll be learning a lot about different food and wine combinations in a fun way.
Van Loveren has eight different wine pairings to choose from including tasting platters with nuts, nougat, cheese and charcuterie.
Their Christina van Loveren Master Tasting is the star of the show though, offering their premium wines with a combination of very interesting flavours from olive oil and balsamic vinegar to homemade dukkah and local cheese.
Non-alcoholic versions of all the tastings are available too, for kids or designated drivers.