The Tasting room experience can have a hugely influential effect on the wine consumer; it can make or break a person's enjoyment and possible longtime love with wine.
Tasting at a winery is a sensory experience which should excite all the senses and encourage a life-long love of wine.
I decided to get out and about in the winelands and re-discover the wealth of tasting rooms open to the public and see how they are utilizing their spaces and creating experiences that continually draw in consumers.
Spier is a destination winery, meaning that it has everything to occupy a varied group of adventurers; wine tasting, eagle meetings, picnics, history, segway trips, biodynamic farming and wonderful food. Whilst I would love to tour the entire state (again), for matters of informing the wine consumer, my research is based purely on the wine tasting experience.
For matters of a disclaimer, I was not invited and it was not for free.
It's a tourist paradise with big space, crafty design, modern, yet comfortable decor and that all-important feeling of being away from it all. The reception, if you can call it that, is welcoming with a round table in the centre, bedecked with beautiful blooms and an array of Spier wines.
Though it took 10minutes before anyone assisted us, there is ample seating, inside, outside and on couches as well as a large table set for 14.
It's a beautiful setting for sitting, drinking, and watching the world go by.
What I sampled (Taste)
I did two of the pairings on offer (yes, I'm a greedy pig at the best of times).
Chocolate and wine pairing - 3 wines - R50pp
This pairing consisted of 3 chocolates and 3 wines:
- The first was a dark cherry chocolate which was paired with Creative Block 5, the Spier 5 wine red blend. The wine unfortunately succumbs to the rich flavours of the chocolate and the hard texture kept me from experiencing them together.
- Second in the lineup was the Creative Block 2, their semillon and sauvignon blanc blend, which was paired with a white, fruity chocolate and together they brought out lovely flavours of grapefruit and lime. That was a true winning match.
- Lastly, the Spier 2011 MCC, with it's green apple nose, was paired with a white pepper and plum chocolate which was, for me, a little too overpowering for the delicate bubbles.
Normal tasting - 5 wines - R35
I chose to taste the Signature chenin blanc, chardonnay, pinotage and the Creative Block 5 and 21 Gables pinotage.
The red wines were served a little too warm but I enjoyed the chenin blanc.
What I learnt (Sound)
It was a good, informative "talk", given with plenty of zeal although a little samey with "good to drink alone" being the operative description for Spier's Signature range - perhaps I look like the cat lady type.
I enjoy being told possible pairing suggestions or even being told that, "our Chenin goes perfectly with our cured meats board which is available from our deli". I think a little bit of inhouse marketing goes a long way and would have possibly encouraged us to purchase a meat or cheese board.
Best feature: Friendly staff and a beautiful tasting area. If you've got younger children (10+), you can quite happily sit on the tasting room deck with a glass and watch the kids play in the gardens.
Head here if you've: Got time to spend. I don't even think 24 hours would cut it with the wealth of activities on offer.
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