Home Lifestyle Christmas gifting: Think outside of the bottle

Christmas gifting: Think outside of the bottle

Mzansi's 'Black Sommelier’ shares wine insights and expert tips on gifting wine like a boss this festive season


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Mzansi, it is no secret that things are a little different this year. The covid-19 pandemic is peaking again and for many traditional end-of-year festivities have changed.

No more office parties, no overly crowded braais, and we are home by 22:00. It is a schlep, but it is for the greater good.

But now wait. Just because you may not be going anywhere or seeing anyone different does not mean that the holiday season must feel any less special and joyful.

Mzansi’s Black Sommelier, Brian Mahanke. Photo: Instagram

There are so many things we can do, big and small, to close out 2020 on a cozy and luxurious note.

For one, if you have dropped the ball on your gifting duties? Consider wine.

Well, that is only if you are willing to do the leg work, sommelier Brian Mahanke says.

You cannot go wrong with gifting wine during the holidays because it is simple and a much-appreciated gift for enthusiasts and wine lovers.

But, what does it take to gift wine? Mahanke gives us the low down.

Preference is everything

The preference and taste of the gift receiver is crucial, says Mahanke, who is also Mzansi’s Black Sommelier on social media.

“When exploring wine as a gifting option, it is vital to be aware of who you are giving the gift to.”

He suggests you ask yourself if they enjoy braaiing red meat over an open flame followed by a strong pull from a cigar? Or do they enjoy oysters overlooking soaking up pristine beach weather?

“Know your giftee, you might give someone a gift and it might not be ideal for them,” Mahanke warns.

Good things come in threes

There is a method to the madness, he reveals. Always gift wines in threes – something red, something white and of course something that sparkles.

“One of the first wines you must buy and should be included in your gift box over this season is an MCC, something sparkling. They can save that and open that gift on New Years Eve when the clock strikes midnight or something like that.

“A second option, something red, like a Bordeaux or single cultivar blend, thirdly something white, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc. I think in doing all three you would’ve represented everything,” the sommelier advises.

You are going to need glasses

What would a South African wine be without the perfect glass? Consider giving a gift that lasts by giving wine glasses.

“Go for crystal glasses or something special. These days stemless glasses are your easiest bet, because nobody feels intimidated by them. People aren’t afraid to handle them because they do not have a stem,” Mahanke advises.

“Nowadays people are also looking for glasses with a whole lot of room so that they can smell the wine,” he adds.

Some top picks?

“I know South African palates are predominantly red, but I think white wines are showing off this year, they are showing their potential,” he says.

When asked which wines were his favorite, Mahanke responds in light laughter, “which ever one is on the table before me.”

He does reveal that Chenin Blanc from the Breedeskloof wine valley were amongst some of the most beautiful wines he has tasted this year. Du Toitskloof Sauvignon Blanc is also a clear winner in his eyes. “It is made from an old vine Sauvignon Blanc, that doesn’t taste anything like sauvignon blanc. It is wooded and amazing and currently forms part of the legacy range,” he says.

Read: When love and skill combine, expect a Du Toitskloof masterpiece

Another wine of interest is Jason’s Hill Chenin Blanc.

“That’s the Chenin Blanc you open to make an impression. Even the bottle is pretty, the label is amazing and its made by a woman. When women make wine they make it really well, and I was really impressed by Ivy Du Toit, who is the winemaker and owner of vineyard.”

Read: Sometimes you have to (literally!) blow things up for the perfect wine

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Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.


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