South Africa Uncorked | South Africa Uncorked For all South African wine fans in Ireland we want to help uncork the inner wine expert in you! Tue, 28 May 2013 19:07:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Barbecued chicken satay /barbecued-chicken-satay/ /barbecued-chicken-satay/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 12:06:21 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1247 Chicken satay is one of my favourite things in the world.  Granted, there is a marinade involved so you need to plan ahead.  But apart from that it’s really easy to make.  I chose this recipe as I wanted to match something with Fleur du Cap Sauvignon Blanc which is a really delicious upstanding example of South African Savvy B.  The wine is brilliantly clear with green edges. On the nose there is an abundance of melon, white peaches, litchis, gooseberries and just a hint of asparagus.  It goes well with mildly spicy food and with chicken so satay was a perfect choice.  Also something you can cook on the barbie if you’ve got good weather.

chicken satay, braai, barbecue, south african wine, fleur du cap

Ingredients for 12 skewers


Half a large tub of plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ginger, grated

1 clove  garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon curry powder

750 gms chicken breasts, cut into strips

20 wooden skewers, (soak them in water for half an hour to prevent them from going on fire on the barbie!)

Vegetable oil, for grilling

Peanut sauce

1/2 pot of smooth peanut butter

50 ml soy sauce

2 teaspoons red chili paste, such as sambal

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 limes, juiced

100 ml hot water

Chopped peanuts, for garnish


Chicken Satay

Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, and curry powder in a shallow mixing bowl, stir to combine. Put the chicken strips in the yogurt marinade into a sealable plastic bag and gently mix around until well coated. Pop the bag in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Thread the chicken pieces onto the soaked skewers working the skewer in and out of the meat, down the  middle of the piece, so that it stays in place during grilling.

You can pop them on a barbie or place a grill pan over medium heat and brush it with oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Grill the chicken satays for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely seared and cooked through. Serve the satays with the peanut sauce on the side, and a few slices of lime.

Peanut Sauce

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, brown sugar, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree to combine. While the motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it. Pour the sauce into a nice serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts.


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Salt and pepper calamari /salt-and-pepper-calamari/ /salt-and-pepper-calamari/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 11:57:38 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1240 Here’s another recipe I’ve pinched from the Two Oceans‘ website and adapted (read made easier).  Calamari always struck me as the kind of thing you would only order in restaurants, but it’s surprisingly easy to cook at home.

calamari, two oceans, pinot grigio, food and wine pairing, south african wine

The website suggests pairing with Pinot Grigio and I wouldn’t argue with that.  South Africans make really good Pinot Grigio, and Two Oceans are no exception.  Subtly perfumed with floral notes and fragrances of dried apricot and peach and a hint of litchi, it’s crisp, zesty and easy-drinking.  Serve it chilled.


250 gms plain flour

1/2 tsp (3 ml) turmeric

500 g calamari tubes, cleaned and sliced into rings

Sunflower oil for deep frying

1 tbsp (15 ml) sea salt

1 tsp (5 ml) crushed mixed peppercorns (black, white and/or rose)

Wedges of lemon or lime, to serve


  • Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Toss calamari into flour mixture until well coated.
  • Heat 4 cm oil in a saucepan and fry calamari in batches, for around 60 to 90 seconds, until crispy.
  • Drain on kitchen towel.
  • Grind salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar and sprinkle over hot calamari.


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Sustainability in South Africa /sustainability-in-south-africa/ /sustainability-in-south-africa/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 11:55:32 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1214

I wrote a blog post before about biodiversity in the wine industry in South Africa and the role that the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative play. They place a great emphasis on minimising the carbon footprint and preserving the natural heritage of their wine lands.

SWSA – Sustainable Wine South Africa is the alliance between the Wine and Spirit Board (WSB), the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) scheme, the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) and Wines of South Africa (WOSA).

Their motto is “It’s not about making better wine, it’s about making wine better”… by considering the consequences of how they grow and make their wine, and thinking ahead for the next generations.

Which is why you will see these seals on bottles of wine and estate brandy produced (and sold) in South Africa.

swsa seal, south african wine, south africa, biodiversity

This certification seal appears on each container of wine or estate brandy which has been certified by the Wine and Spirit Board guaranteeing the origin, vintage and variety that is stated on the wine label.

This video explains the meaning behind the seal far more succinctly than I could.

A new seal for South African wines, a world first.

 South Africa is leading the way in sustainability in the global wine industry, let’s watch this space and see who follows suit.


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Roosterkoek /roosterkoek/ /roosterkoek/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 11:48:49 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1236 After an excruciatingly long Winter/Spring it’s finally time to get the barbies out!  A great way to entertain friends and if you want to put an exotic spin on it, then you can do it Saffer style and follow the braai tips I gave in my blog post last year.  One of the staples of a South African braai are Roosterkoek –  balls of bread dough cooked on a grid over the coals, eaten piping hot and straight off the grill.

roosterkoek, braai, south africa, south african wine

A South African style braai is also a good excuse to crack open some South African wine, and what better on a warm day then some delicious Chenin Blanc.  Drostdy-hof do a reasonably priced one that would go down a treat at any braai.  It’s described as having abundant guava and citrus aromas and crisp deciduous fruits flavours.

Ingredients (makes about 12):

300g plain flour
10ml instant yeast
5ml salt
15ml sugar
30ml sunflower oil
180-200ml warm water


Mix the yeast and sugar together in a small cup together with a little of the warm water and stir.  The mixture should foam after a minute or two.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt, then add the oil and water while mixing continuously.  When the mixture comes together to form a dough, add the yeast and sugar and mix well.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased plastic bag or in a lightly greased bowl covered with a damp tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in volume.

Divide the dough into 12 roughly equal pieces and shape into slightly flattened balls on a floured surface. Place on a baking sheet and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise for another 15 minutes.

Place the clean braai grid over evenly distributed direct coals and allow to heat for 5 minutes. Lightly grease the grid and place the rolls directly on it for about 10 minutes, then turn the roosterkoek over and cook for another 8-10 minutes. They are done when they are lightly browned, crispy on the outside and sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the fire/oven, split open and serve hot with butter and apricot jam.  Jam might seem a weird thing to eat with sausages and steaks, but it’s a surprisingly delicious accompaniment!

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Stuffed chicken breast /stuffed-chicken-breast/ /stuffed-chicken-breast/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 11:38:50 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1255 This is lovely simple recipe, that’s actually pretty healthy too.  So good for a quick weekend bite or a mid-week dinner. It could go well with a Pinotage, and Fleur du Cap‘s is hard to beat.  It has a deep red colour with purplish edges. On the nose it shows ample berry fruit with a sweetish fruitcake character enhanced by a spicy oak finish. Full-bodied on the palate with ripe plum flavours, this robust red is supported by a good tannic backbone.

fleur du cap, pinotage, south africa uncorked, south african wine

Ingredients (per person)

  • Olive oil
  • 25g baby spinach
  • handful of pine nuts
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 prunes, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small skinless chicken breast
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 100g tenderstem broccoli and baby new potatoes, steamed, to serve


Set the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Heat some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the shredded spinach, chopped spring onions, pine nuts and prunes. Cook until the spinach wilts. Season.

Cut a slit in the top of the chicken and open out. Press in the spinach mixture. Place the chicken on baking parchment on a baking tray and drizzle over the honey. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-30 mins, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced, and it’s starting to turn golden.

Transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Spoon over any juices that have run out. Serve with broccoli and steamed baby potatoes.

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Wine racks. The whys and wherefores. /wine-racks-the-whys-and-wherefores/ /wine-racks-the-whys-and-wherefores/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 11:26:26 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1222 A wine rack is a good way to store wine in your house if you tend to stock more than your immediate requirements.  Like a lot of useful furniture and shelving solutions, they can be really visually pleasing and complement the design of your kitchen or living area.   Here are some of my favourites.

wine rack, south african wine

You should ensure that the wine is kept in the rack at the right temperature and out of direct sunlight – there’s no point having a fabulous rack if you ruin your wine by having it next to a window with direct sunlight.

Although vertical or angled racks can be pretty cool looking, they aren’t really the best way to store your wine.  If the bottle is at an angle….or upside down…. sediment can build up around the cork which means when you open the bottle the cork will be all messy and the first glass will be full of sediment.  Lying the bottle on its side will ensure any sediment won’t be the first thing you notice when you open the bottle.

With a vertical rack the bottle itself is stored vertically which means that over time the cork will dry out and start to shrink and this brings air into the wine which ruins it.

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Poached chicken and noodle pot /poached-chicken-and-noodle-pot/ /poached-chicken-and-noodle-pot/#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 11:14:32 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1160 This is a tasty, healthy light mid-week dinner that goes well with Chardonnay.  I served this with a Fleur du Cap Chardonnay.  The winemaker describes it as displaying beautiful toasty aromas on the nose with hints of melon and citrus fruit. It is dry with a well-balanced weight that demands attention. Lovely nut, butterscotch and vanilla oak, support a zesty palate packed with apple and citrus flavours. The wine has a fascinating long finish.” I went to a tasting with Jean Smullen recently; she is a big fan of Chardonnay and pinpointed the Fleur du Cap as outstanding in its field and excellent value for money.

fleur du cap chardonnay, south african wine, recipes, noodles, chicken

Serves 4, takes half an hour.


1 tbsp of vegetable oil

4 skinless chicken breasts

3 garlic cloves, crushed

5 cm of fresh ginger, grated

1 red onion

1 red chilli, deseeded (unless you want extra spice) and finely chopped

1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed and very finely sliced

1 litre of chicken stock

400g (or four nests) of noodles (I prefer egg, but you can use rice noodles either)

A small head of broccoli, broken into small florets

A small bunch of coriander, chopped (I keep the stems in – they have loads of flavour)

50g of toasted sesame seeds.


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium high heat and brown the chicken on both sides.  Reduce the head and add the garlic, ginger, onion, chilli and lemongrass and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the stock and gently simmer for 12 minutes until the chicken is cooked, then remove the breasts and keep warm.

2. Add the noodles and the broccoli to the saucepan and cook for two minutes.

3. Slice the chicken finely, divide the noodles and the broccoli between the four bowls and then top with the chicken, coriander and sesame seeds.  Ladle over the hot chicken broth from the pan and serve with a glass of chilled Chardonnay.


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Scallops with hazelnut butter /scallops-with-hazelnut-butter/ /scallops-with-hazelnut-butter/#comments Fri, 24 May 2013 08:28:18 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1147 If you have a special occasion coming up and need an excuse to drink some sparkling wine with your dinner then look no further.  Here’s a delicious recipe for scallops, which goes really well with Pongracz sparling wine.  It’s described as having “a wonderful foaming mousse and persistent bead with a classic yeast and biscuit character that culminates in a full, fruity finish. Its crisp green apple tones and baked bread nuttiness sets it apart from other Méthode Cap Classiques” and is a personal favourite of mine.

pongracz, recipes, south african wine, sparkling wine, champagne, matching food with champagne

Ingredients for two people, takes 15 minutes to prepare and cook.


1 tsp olive oil
shallot, peeled, finely sliced
75g/2½oz butter, softened
½ lemon, zest only
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
45g/1½oz hazelnuts, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
scallops, cleaned


For the scallops, heat a frying pan until warm, add the olive oil and shallot and fry gently until softened but not coloured.
Place the butter into a bowl and add the cooked shallot, along with all the remaining scallop ingredients, except the scallops. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
Preheat the grill to high.
Place the scallops onto a grill tray and top each scallop with a spoonful of the hazelnut butter. Place under the grill for 3-4 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from the grill and set aside to rest for one minute.
Serve with a crisp green salad, or if you want something more substantial some creamy mashed potatoes.  And a glass of Pongracz – delicious!

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Gruyere and mushroom filled beef tomatoes /gruyere-and-mushroom-filled-beef-tomatoes/ /gruyere-and-mushroom-filled-beef-tomatoes/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 08:04:35 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1154 This could easily be served to meat-eaters without an eyelash being batted, it’s a delicious, intensely flavoured dish that goes really well with a Merlot – I tried it with Drostdy-Hof and it was a good match.  It’s rich and mouth-filling with lots of berries and a slight tannic background that matches well with the mushrooms and cheese.

drostdy-hof, merlot, south african wine, south africa uncorked, vegetarian recipes, tomatoes,

Serves 4, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 6-8 minutes


4 beef tomatoes

400 ml of double cream

2 courgettes, finely sliced

2 red peppers, finely chopped

75g white button mushrooms, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

200g of freshly grated gruyere cheese

Glug of olive oil for frying

Salt and pepper

Handful of fresh rocket leaves to serve splashed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/mark 3

2. Skin the tomatoes by incising a cross on the bottom and plunging them into boiling water for 30 seconds, then into iced water.  Slice off the tops and put to one side.  Scoop out the pulp carefully, minding not to break the flesh and put to one side.  Season the cavities well.

3. Put the cream in a heavy based pan and bring slowly to the boil, reducing the volume by half.

4. Meanwhile,  heat a little oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the courgettes, peppers and garlic, until soft (about 5 minutes).

5. Add two thirds of the cheese to the reduced cream and stir until it melts.  Fold this mix into the fried veg.

6. Divide the filling between the tomatoes, top with the remaining cheese and sit the lids back on top.  Put onto a baking tray and pop into the oven for 6-8 minutes.

Serve with boiled or steamed rice or some crusty bread, and a glass of merlot.  Enjoy!

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The Rainbow Nation’s diverse population /the-rainbow-nations-diverse-population/ /the-rainbow-nations-diverse-population/#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 10:04:28 +0000 southafricauncorked /?p=1181 I wrote before about how South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation.  This is due to its incredible diversity.  The geography, flora, fauna, cuisine and cultures are exceptionally varied.

According to Statistics South Africa‘s (Stats SA) Census 2011 results, released in October 2012, there are 51,8 million people living in South Africa, of whom 79,2% is African, 8,9% coloured, 2,5% Indian and 8,9% white. The male-female split is quite equal with approximately 51,3% of the population being female. 

Twenty nine percent (29%) of the population is aged younger than 15 years and approximately 5% is 60 years or older.

The South African population consists of many different tribes and races.

Nguni cattle


The Nguni (comprising the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi people) are a people who migrated from the north to the Great Lakes region of sub-equatorial Central/East Africa.  They migrated southwards over many centuries, with large herds of Nguni cattle, probably entering what is now South Africa around 2,000 years ago in sporadic settlement.



The Sotho-Tswana, who include the Southern, Northern and Western Sotho (Tswana people), who still practice a traditional Shamanist type religion, based on devotion to ancestors – as intermediaries to God (a person is said to exist for as long as his “shadow” is still felt on earth by living relatives).  Each small settlement had its traditional herbalist healers (dingaka), who also function as shamans, spiritual counsellors and protectors against evil spirits and black magic.  The Tswana people are also renowned for their unique cultural dance.

tswana woman; south africa, rainbow nation

Tswana woman


tsonga woman, south africa, rainbow nation, face scarring

Tsonga woman

The Tsonga, who like most bantu cultures, have a strong acknowledgment of their ancestors, who are believed to have a considerable effect on the lives of their descendants. Polygamy exists amongst the Tsonga and face-scarring is considered a sign of beauty. 

venda people, south africa, rainbow nation, crocodile




The Venda people whose culture is built on a vibrant mythical belief system.  Water is an important theme to the Venda and there are many sacred sites within their region where the Venda conjure up their ancestral spirits.  They believe zwidudwane, (water spirits), live at the bottom of waterfalls. The Venda people have a very special relationship with crocodiles. The area where they live is filled with these dangerous reptiles. They believe that the brain of the crocodile is very poisonous; therefore they are given right of way by the Venda who do not even hunt them for food.


Afrikaners are a South African ethnic group whose native tongue is Afrikaans: a Germanic language which derives primarily from 17th century Dutch, and a variety of other languages. During the seventeenth century, Dutch colonists from the Netherlands (known as Boers) settled there. Over the next 200 years, British, French, and German settlers joined them. At first, they settled along the coast, but eventually settlers moved inland. These settlers developed a unique cultural identity and language and became known as Afrikaners. Their language, Afrikaans, began as a spoken dialect, but developed into a written language, too.

The term Coloureds (also known as BruinmenseKleurlinge or Bruin Afrikaners in Afrikaans) refers to an heterogeneous ethnic group who possess ancestry from Europe, various Khoisan and Bantu tribes of Southern Africa, as well as peoples of West Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaya, India, Mozambique, Mauritius, and Saint Helena.

Indians make up a large portion of the population in South Africa and mostly live in and around the city of Durban, making it ‘the largest ‘Indian’ city outside India’.  Many Indians in South Africa are descendants of migrants from colonial India (South Asia) during late 19th-century through early 20th-century.

And these are only the most prominent groups.  As you can imagine with that many different races and tribes, there are quite a lot of differnet languages spoken.  Which is why there are 11 official languages in South Africa!


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