December is upon us and in case you are unaware of the rules – there are none.
There’s a hilarious tweet I read the other day in response to a person complaining about being planless this December. Someone told him to just wake up and shower, “December will happen to YOU”. I can’t stop laughing because this is the absolute truth. So when I woke up on Sunday, I decided to realise an idea I’d been toying with for a few days – an impromptu #beccaswineswap. The thing is, I’d been sick with the mother of all summer colds and I wasn’t shaking it fast enough, but it’s December so I ignored the pain, put a cute dress on and invited some of my girls to the house.
In true December fashion, not everyone could make it because they we in the middle of their plans and others were on their way home from church when they were waylaid. As always, what I had planned to be a brief wine tasting and bubbly popping celebration of life morphed into a friendship audition and therapy session for which we all paid for dearly the next day – Monday.
Meeting new people is always fun for me. I enjoy people. I enjoy learning them and listening to their stories. I remember meeting these lovely ladies and their friendliness. Their unassuming demeanour immediately made me feel comfortable. Then they dropped their credentials and I was like yes!! This is the content I signed up for!!! I was in a room filled with black female excellence – and it wasn’t even humble. We bragged about what 2018 had brought out of us – degrees, business ownership, travel, new homes, love, new adventures and so much more. WE did that!! Of course no celebration is complete without a toast – we jumped right into the Swartland Cuveé Brut sparkling wine (sauvignon blanc). This is my absolute go to for bubbly because it’s nice and dry, just fruity enough and oh so kind to my pocket!! (R67.99)
My friend Ondela (also known as the the waylayer of other children) brought along two friends – the helpful Mbali and the party starter Pam as well as a bottle of what I believe is a firm family favourite – the Nederburg Baronne. Nederburg is such a familiar South African wine brand. It’s reliable, safe and affordable. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend with a slight cherry flavour and such easy drinking. It will set you back between R65 and R75 (another wallet friendly pick) and will go down without a fight.
My friend Thabi – who refused to have her face taken – much like Ondela – because they weren’t “camera ready” brought an Italian wine with her. We like it when we learn new things because that’s kind of the point of this exercise. The Giacondi Rosso Vino D’Italia is a very light blend of unnamed Italian cultivars. The label merely states that Italian varietals are used. After much digging, I discovered that it is an Italian table wine or “vino da tavola“. You know how as Africans, we ingest so much foreign pop culture that we tend to know more about the outside world than they know about us? I recall the term “table wine” from some random TV show or movie and I get that its the affordable – because it is locally produced , daily drinking wine. I didn’t know how complicated this story would be until I did some research.
So, Italy uses a strict system called Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) to identify and classify their wines. Kind of like SABS or ISO. Anyway, in Italy, the DOC started caused problems for winemakers who used other processes to make wine, or non traditional grapes, and therefore, couldn’t get the prestigious DOC accreditation. Those wines became vino da tavola even though they were great wines. So the stereotype that table wine is bad or cheap wine is incorrect. So long story short, the Giacondi is table wine, but good wine. It has a beautiful plum colour and reminds me of a pinot noir, with a bit more bang. (Retails for about R140)
Gabi was also surprised by my spur of the moment instigation of ibigdays, but joined us willingly and caught us mid celebration. She also arrived bearing the right things for our mood – more bubbly!!! If you’re partial to bruts, but with a light sweet note, the demi sec is your friend. I constantly tease my friend about her sweet tooth and normally I wouldn’t indulge but the Boschendal demi sec went DOWN. It has some citrus notes and has the slightest sweetness that makes it easier to palate than a brut. (Retails for about R170. )
I’m pathetic at cheeseboarding but I like the idea of snacks and palate cleansers. I (and a lot of my people, I’ve noticed) prefer water to bread or crackers but I was lazy okay. I liked the brightness of the strawberries and the prosciutto. Also, one of those dips is FIRE!! It’s Guy`s Smoked Salmon Pate and you can find it anywhere literally, for about R26, and it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. I promise.
We ended up sitting outside in the ridiculous summer heat talking about our hearts and love- like sisters do. It was cathartic, teary and really therapeutic. That stereotype that women can’t get along is consistently crushed because in my adult life, I have met more kind, supportive, welcoming women than I have those who try to tear you down.
December has started well. It can only get better!
The Empress xx