The world of liquor, alcohol or any other name you want to fashion for drinks is a fascinating one to no end. It’s also one which needs a bit of understanding to be fully enjoyed and appreciated. To be honest, it’s a world that most people frown upon mostly due to associated waywardness that is said to come with partaking of it. It transcends morality and religion and it has a firm standing socially and even philosophically. That said, Mmegi was invited rather graciously by Fine Brands; Botswana’s most avid wine and beverage connoisseurs and Stanbic Bank head office played host to the affair.

The whole exercise was a prelude to the upcoming wine tasting festival that will be in full swing on August 2, 2013 and Fine Brands thought it best to give the media a first sip and sniff opportunity before throwing open their doors to the general public.  Stanbic Bank Public Relations Manager Ruth Lorato Modisane showed us to their rather splendidly opulent dining room that in keeping with its fine atmosphere, has a nice cocktail bar and wine cellar somewhere in its capacious bowels. A wood panelled room revealed a long conference style table and several cushioned and high backed chairs and an array of red and white wines were presented before us, chilled and ready to be consumed once one Gilbert Mpofu of Fine Brands uncorked the bottles.

The idea was to demystify the world of wines and to familiarise people with what wines are and how one can go about choosing which wines to down and at which occasion, the relevant meals and such. There is a lot to learn when it comes to wines; in fact, it is a whole new world that needs to be explored. In all honesty, it should be turned into a sport because it is just so interesting to hear about the Chardonnays and the Pinot Noir’s, the Sauvignon Blanc and just what kind of glass one should use for which particular brand of wine. Mpofu offered that “when you’re drinking wine you have to engage all your senses, don’t you? In order for anything to entice you, you have to look at it, feel it and taste it, and that is what is involved in drinking wine. There is no mystery to it really, I know in the past traditionally it has always been very fancy wording used but now more and more people are trying to demystify wine and trying to make it more acceptable to people on the street. Traditionally wine is a drink that was had at the dinner table, it is not as big a deal as it is here because here we drink it to get drunk but that is something that I hope people will get to learn from encountering with the connoisseurs of the beverage.”

Fine Brands gave a splendid run down of the history of wine drinking, the occasion and the maturity involved in handling the beverage. In encountering a lot of peers on the streets and in our everyday lives, one finds that there is this whole misconception attached to taking wine; no doubt brought about by the fact that wine is not a native beverage to Botswana but an extension of what the Europeans and South Africans have been practicing generations past. But one cannot ignore the fact that wine exists within our borders; it is as much a social drink as it is an intensely intimate drink that is favoured by romantics around the world, so then it goes without saying that a little exposure to it and a few lessons about its ways would help in equipping people about it.  Awareness is a wonderful street when you walk on it. Food lovers usually attend food tasting festivals to learn about Eastern delights and Western delights; whole industries have been brought up around the fashion industries where fashion from around the world has been showcased to the delight of onlookers and music festivals have been a norm among the modern and old generations.

Now all this tells a story of human interaction, the fact that people drink and get merry and dance to song and feast. It is the story of celebration and favourite hangout for friends and strangers alike and Fine Brands Wines show that good wine is as much a stimulant for good hearty get-together as any. “When drinking wine, you need to smell, you need to look at it, look at what colour it is and when you look at the back of each bottle of wine it tells you that you are supposed to pick out black berries, blue berries and cherries, and for most of us we haven’t even tasted those things to know what it is we are supposed to pick out, I find that it is better not to tell someone  what to expect and let them find out what it is the wine carries in it cause you might find someone telling you it tastes like dinawa you know, people relating it to what they have tasted before rather than suggesting.

It makes sense to those people that have eaten those particular berries because if you have never eaten a raspberry you wouldn’t know what to expect in that drink. So what we try to do anyway is to try to let you decide what it is you are picking out in that drink,” he said. I was duly advised to look at the wines, shake them up in their glasses, and smell them before taking a swig. Because most white wines are much more delicate than their red counterparts, it was advisable to start the tasting with the whites so as not to drown their flavours with the reds. A method that was suggested was that of pouring your white wine into a long stem glass, hold the glass by the stem and shake it a bit around to open up the aromas within; you then proceed to inhale the rich smells coming from within the glasses and take a sip while breathing in but at the same time being careful not to rush it down your wind pipe.

It is obvious tasting wine is an art that is most enjoyable when you have splendid coaches like Mpofu. They advise that at a wine tasting festival akin to the one that will be coming up next week, one takes a sip of the wine but doesn’t swallow the wine, but rather spits it! Mpofu advices that “the idea is to taste as many wines as possible, but when you swallow and there are over 80 wines on the show you will get drunk before getting through the tasting.”When it comes to the difference between white wines and the reds, it gets very interesting in that it is not always necessarily a case of using red grapes or white grapes for the wine because as Mpofu pointed out all grapes are the same colour inside, regardless of their outer skin. So you can have white wine made out of red grapes in that the colour comes primarily from the duration of the skin of the grapes that is left together with the grapes. When you leave the peel-offs for longer, the colour gets deeper and darker but if you remove them straight away you end up with white wine. Now with that little lesson done, a bit of proper sampling was allowed.

Back to the festival – a selection of wine estates will be at the festival and those are as follows: Boland Estate, Cape Diamond Wines, Ernie Els Estate, Glen Carlou Estate, Groot Constantia Estate, Kanonkop Estate Lourensford Wines, Meerlust Estate, Rustenberg Estate, Slent Farms, Solms Delta, Stellenrust Swartland Winery and it has to be mentioned that an array of coffees will be there for the sampling too because you actually can and should have a cocktail of coffees and those will be presented by Ciro Coffee.The Kalahari Wine Tasting Festival is sponsored by Stanbic Bank, Fine Brands, Mmegi and Yarona fm.  It will be hosted on August 1-2, 2013 at the Gaborone International Convention Centre.

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