To be honest, I’m amazed to write this piece. I am not a wine enthusiast. In fact, my first experience with wine was at a five-star hotel in Accra and the least said about it, the better; considering the embarrassment I faced that day.
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting event organised by Wines of South Africa (WOSA) that changed my whole perspective about wines. Until then, I never knew there was anything as wine tasting.
Out of curiosity, I decided to go to this much publicised event. I had heard a lot about the wines from South Africa and how exceptionally good they were. I would later come to confirm this for myself.
For a wine novice as me, the obvious expectation was for me to get drunk, misbehave and worst case scenario, get a hangover. However, the exhibitors at the wine tasting event had the right attitude and attention for everyone.
From first time-attendants like me, to connoisseurs with experienced taste buds, to my utmost surprise, they had some interesting combinations with the wine samples they served as well, something I had no knowledge of red wine with chocolate chunks! O my! I love chocolates and I know most people do too. That was my ‘eureka’ moment. Wine and chocolate? Who even thought about that?
This year, the Grand Wine Tasting event was much more exclusive. You never miss the touch of class when it comes to WOSA. The people, the fashion, the venue, the lighting and yes, the wines of course. From fruity whites to chocolatey reds, there was plenty of wine to go around for sampling.
This year, about 18 different exhibitors from different wine-producing regions in South Africa served samples of their wines to guests. Their wines ranged from the Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Other wines served included the fruitier Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The exhibitors took their time to explain the wine making process to guests, advising on how each could be combined well with food and how to best enjoy them.
I got the opportunity to speak to Matome Mbatha, the Marketing Manager of WOSA, Africa Region, for a brief moment. In our conversation, he commended Ghanaians for embracing the wine industry.
“I think Ghanaians are very educated with wine. It’s not like a snobbish product to them. The quality of the people has improved. More interactive and more engaging. Knowing one brand from the other and giving you the preference of choice. People now have an opinion about wine which implies that what we put in educating people is paying off,” he said.
Also present was the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulama Xingwana who was there to lend her support for the event. I spoke to her for a few seconds and we exchanged pleasantries.
This year’s event was in two parts: a morning and an evening session. The morning session involved a short-course in Discovering South African Wines.
It exposed participants to the wine making process, the different types of wines, how to tell the quality of wine and most importantly exposed them to the kind of meals suitable for pairing with wine. The evening session, the Grand Tasting Event was the real deal of ‘taste and see what South Africa has wines!’
During my interactive session with Matome Mbatha, he stated that there is ease of doing Business in Ghana. “The challenges we face are the normal challenges that come with engaging in business. It’s business as usual. We only need to sensitise businesses to know that we’re here for long term. It’s not a short-term thing. We’re here to build brands to grow. We want to tag alongdoing things similar to creating opportunities for the cocoa industry,” he explained
Mbatha is confident in the next three to four years, South Africa will become the leading exporter of wines to Ghana because they are doing things differently by innovatively creating what is easy for Ghanaians to receive.
He added: “we are not here to dump wine but to add value to each other’s lives because the spirit of patriotism within the African continent is growing very strongly.” For the past three years, WOSA has been very consistent in presenting Ghanaians with world class wines and the opportunity to meet and socialise with great personalities in the country.
In my utmost opinion, WOSA’s Grand Tasting Event is a very great one, one every wine enthusiasts, from individuals to companies alike, should explore and collaborate with, in order to promote job creation and increase education in the wine industry. I know I wet your appetite enough to join me next year. See you there!