The ultimate wine-pairing guide for your braai

South Africa has 11 official languages and many more cultures, but there’s one thing that unites us: getting together with friends to cook over hot coals. The humble braai or shisanyama is as South African as it gets. Everyone has clear ideas about what makes for a good braai: lamp chops, chicken, or grilled veggies? Umphokoqo (African salad), potato salad, or bean salad? Pap, roosterkoek, or braaibroodtjies? We spoke to Groot Constantia‘s winemaker, Boela Gerber, to find out the perfect pairing for any braai, no matter what you decide to put on the grill.

Bubbles and rosé while the fire gets going

Everyone knows that half the pleasure of a braai is sitting by the fire, waiting for the coals to burn down and be ready to cook on. Salads need to be prepped, and the conversation needs to flow. “A chilled Rosé is a wonderful choice to accompany a braai on a warm Spring day,” says Gerber. “The fruit flavours of strawberries, raspberries, melon, and a hint of jasmine, compliment most dishes, particularly those crisp side salads.” If it’s a special occasion, you can’t go wrong with a cold bottle of MCC. Gerber explains that the Groot Constantia MCC Brut Rosé, with its light pink colour and ripe tropical fruity flavours, pairs beautifully with fish, chicken, and salad.

Top pick: Groot Constantia’s Methode Cap Classique Brut Rose

A white blend and snoek

Snoek on the braai is a Cape traditional treasure. It’s often prepared with apricot and butter, which adds a sweet and indulgent edge to the firm, salty fish. A white blend is the answer here: the light fruitiness compliments the apricot flavours, and the smooth oak finish allows the subtle richness of braaied snoek to shine. Gerber recommends a white blend such as the Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White.
“This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon was created to pair perfectly with any fish dish”, he says. “If you are thinking of snoek on the braai, this wine is an absolute must.”

Top Pick: Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve White

Chardonnay with shellfish

There are few things as wonderful as fresh shellfish on the braai. Scatter a handful of mussels over the grill, and simply wait for the shells to open, revealing succulent flesh. If you really want to indulge, opt for Gerber’s personal favourite, braaied crayfish with garlic butter. What better to wash it down with than a buttery, smooth Chardonnay?

Top pick: Groot Constantia Chardonnay

Sauvignon blanc and spicy chicken

For white meats, you need white wine, and there is nothing better than a crisp sauvignon blanc to compliment spice. “If you enjoy a lightly spiced chicken braai then a Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal wine pairing option,” says Gerber. “It goes great with potato salad too.”

Top Pick: Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc

Shiraz or cab sauv with steak and chops

Lamb chops and beef steak are popular braai cuts. They pair incredibly well with good, full-bodied red wines like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines pick up the smokiness of the meat and the tannins compliment the fatty cuts.

Top pick: Groot Constantia Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon

A red blend with red meat

A red blend is a great choice because it pairs well with anything, and won’t overpower any of the delicious flavours on your plate. “Whether you are preparing braaied vegetables, chicken or red meat you can’t go wrong with the Groot Constantia Lady of Abundance,” says Gerber. The newest wine to join the stable of varietals produced by the Estate, this special red blend is made up from Pinotage, Shiraz, and Merlot.

Top Pick: Groot Constantia Lady of Abundance

End on a sweet note

Yes, you can put your dessert over the coals! Try a braai pie, or pop some peaches on the grid, and serve it with a dollop of ice-cream. Groot Constantia recommends pouring a glass of their iconic Grand Constance. “This full-bodied sweet wine with caramel and dried fruit flavours will complement the sugar content of any sweet dessert,” concludes Gerber. Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance is also the perfect wine for Heritage Month as it is the oldest wine in South Africa.

Top Pick: Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance

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