Win tickets and become a wine expert before the Tops Wine Show


It is almost time for the The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show (August 4-6)  and I have two sets of double tickets to give away…. YEAH I DO!

It is the 7th show in Port Elizabeth and this year they are going BURLESQUE! no you don’t have to take out your Christina Aguilera moves to attend , at least I don’t think so *double checks tickets and confirms, clothes to be worn at all times*

Themed The Greatest Show Unearthed for 2016, the event will channel a vintage burlesque experience by blending hundreds of  wine exhibitors, food and what they have dubbed edu-taining activities at the Boardwalk.

A highlight not to be missed is the Weekend Post Wine Theatre where you can experience a series of interactive tasting talks hosted by industry experts and wine personalities

But before I give you guys the chance to win the tickets here are some tips to be “Wine Fancy AF” (My term)… Well actually it is a list of tips from Maryna Strachan, Managing Editor at Wine-Extra magazine and consultant to the wine show, on how to start a wine club at home.

You might be suprised to know that “bring wine, drink wine” is not the only things to do…

I have added my comments in italics

How many people should you invite? The ideal number of members for a wine club is up to 20. Any more than that will increase costs and make the tasting less intimate. Having 20 members also means you can easily share out 20 samples per 750ml bottle.

You can tell this is a fancy wine club because they can get 20 samples out of one bottle.

Plan a theme night: Once you know who’ll be attending, and how often, decide on a theme to follow for each tasting. This will determine which wines you’ll taste every time. Ease in by selecting wines from one of the wine regions, such as Stellenbosch or Franschhoek or Cheap and Cheerful wines under R40 to get started.

Oooh I love this Idea, because I would have been like, today we do red next week white, okay that’s the end of this club

Which reds, which whites? Keep it simple by choosing a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc for the whites and a Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds. Rosé wines are either sweet or dry, so consider trying both to compare their characters. For something a bit special you could even have a bubbly night; select a variety of sparkling wines or MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) and let their fine fizz do the talking.

Here’s an embarrassing secret about me, when I first started attending events with wine lists I would always order Chardonnay (even though I didn’t like it) because it was the only thing I could confidently pronounce

What equipment do you need?  Everyone at the tasting should drink from the same shape and size glass. Tasting notes can be found in Platter’s guides, on the back of the bottle or on the wine farm’s website. It’s a good idea to supply your club members with a few buckets or cups to spit in. This will ensure everyone maintains a lucid and discerning approach to the tasting and for those who want to or are designated drivers. Plain crackers are also essential to help neutralise your palate.

I had nooooo idea you would need this, I was thinking, okay everyone bring a glass, lets go

Before you taste….As tempting as it is to get stuck in, restrain yourself and let a bottle of wine breathe before tasting it. This includes the white and rosé. In doing so, the flavours and aromas are loosened up and exposed. Also, make sure you smell the wine before pouring to ensure it’s not corked. Look out for a musty smell. If the wine has oxidised, white wine will appear rusty orange or brown if it’s a red.

Watch all us wine nubes bring up words like oxidisation at the next braai

Scoring your wine: Tasting notes can be downloaded from the internet or a Platter’s guide and used to introduce the wine to the group. Swirl the wine in the glass and smell again to stimulate your olfactory senses. Then sip and swirl the wine around in your mouth before spitting (or swallowing if you prefer). Remember, wine tasting is subjective so it’s recommended to ask everyone in the group to describe what they pick up during a tasting as there will quite likely be a number of different opinions around the table. If you want to take your wine club to the next level, introduce a wine scoring method such as the 20 or 100 point method or even just a star rating.

How to describe what you taste? If you pick up berries or cinnamon on the nose, then that’s how you’ll describe the wine. Common flavours in white wine are freshly cut grass, asparagus, tropical fruit or butterscotch, depending on the varietal, and in red you’ll often hear descriptions of spices or coffee. No taste is ever wrong and, if you pick up a hint of something that others can’t, you may even be a ‘Supertaster’, i.e. someone who has an extraordinary ability to pick up specific smells and tastes in food and wine.

I always get so awkward at wine tasting events when people ask me this, “can you pick up the notes of freshly cut grass Eleanor?” no, do I want to? is that a good thing? I don’t want to drink grass man!

Keep your palate clean: If you want to get the best out of your tasting don’t chew gum, smoke, brush your teeth or wear perfume or cologne just before tasting. A clean palate is essential in wine club culture as you want to properly pick up all the different tasting notes in every wine.

I know a few people whose perfume you can taste, bleugh

Where to buy your wine: With more than 6000 wines available in South Africa you’ll never run out of wine to taste. You also don’t need to live in the Cape to taste wine from this region; the TOPS at SPAR Wine Show brings hundreds of fine wines from the Western and Northern Cape Winelands to you to taste and buy. Meet the wine-makers, taste a variety of labels and cultivars and take home a few best buys to get your first wine club started.

Enter to win tickets below…

If you are not lucky enough to win tickets can be purchased pre-show for R120 from or at the door for R140. Price includes a tasting glass, all tastings, access to The Weekend Post Wine Theatre and a map to help navigate the show



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