5 Things I wish people knew about Sauvignon Blanc

Cathy Marston exasperates over some wine-drinking 'match fouls'.

by: Cathy Marston | 12 Sep 2012

Sauvignon Blanc is the country’s favourite white wine. In fact, it’s probably the world’s favourite white wine although I guess Pinot grigio is giving it a good run for its money these days.

Time was when we ran our restaurant, every second glass of wine ordered – not even every second glass of white wine – was Sauvignon Blanc and I don’t see any signs whatsoever of this changing in the near future.

It’s not that I don’t like Sauvignon – I do – but I am becoming increasingly ‘grumpy old woman’ ish about it so I think it is time I got a few things off my chest.

Most of the following are rants at customers for how they drink it and the final one is a rant at winemakers for how they make the stuff.

1. Hold your horses
Most Sauvignon Blanc is actually better when it is more than a few weeks old. I know this is something wine journos and retailers keep saying over and over again, but the message just isn’t getting through.

Wait awhile – there’s no need to drink Sauvignon in the year of vintage. I’m currently working my way through some 2010 Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc and it is utterly delicious.

2. Killing the flavour

If you add ice blocks, you are killing the flavour. Look – I’m not going to be prescriptive about this because I’ve added ice blocks to my savvy in summer as well. But you do need to realise that when you do this, it’s just killing the flavours, making them contract in on themselves and leaving you with a mouthful of acid and alcohol.

Now this may not be a bad thing if you’re drinking cheap, nasty wine but if you’re paying quite a bit for your glass of Sauvignon, it would be much better to to adjust the fridge temperature than to waste your money by killing the flavour and tasting nothing.

3. Pairing with food
Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t actually work very well with food. There. I’ve said it. It really frustrates me to see people order a bottle of Sauvignon and then carry on drinking it throughout the meal. SB generally has so much acidity and is so overtly fruity and pungent, it’s actually a really difficult wine to pair with food. Please consider a Chenin or an unwooded Chardonnay instead. Much more food-friendly in my opinion

4. How about a blend?
Sauvignon Blanc likes Chenin Blanc very much. Let’s look at the harsh commercial realities shall we folks? The people growing Sauvignon know that it’s cool and trendy and have priced their grapes accordingly. Whereas Chenin – for reasons which are utterly beyond me – is still not considered exciting and is consequently cheap. And the two varieties love each other – they help each other out in a blend and really make some of the most delicious, easy-drinking white wines around. And they’re great value. Which makes them extra good in my eyes.

Try Nabygelegen Lady Anna, Delheim Heerenwijn and Groote Post Old Man’s Blend White.

5. Value for money?
Don’t get greedy with your prices. This one’s for winemakers. If I read of yet another bloody Sauvignon picked at ‘optimal ripeness’ and made from ‘carefully selected grapes’ I may throw up. These are not good enough reasons to be selling a Sauvignon over R70 in my opinion.

Winemakers must try a bit harder – blend in some Semillon, add in an oaked element, acquire complexity by mixing up different regions. Otherwise, I think you’re cheating me and that doesn’t make me happy.

What’s your thoughts on SA’s favourite white grape?

Read more on: wine  |  sauvignon blanc


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