Take out your wine glasses for splash of infused fizz or blue bubbly

A Vine Time, with Samantha Venter

PARTY'S ON: These low alcohol wine-based taste infusions are perfect for summer
PARTY’S ON: These low alcohol wine-based taste infusions are perfect for summer

AND now, as Monty Python would say, for something completely different. Blue bubbly, white brandy, fruit-infused fizzy wine – whatever next?

Liquor industry players are on an eternal quest to stand out from the crowd, grab shelf space in bottle stores, and appeal to new and younger markets.

Some do this by focusing on quality and heritage, some by competing on price, and others push the envelope with new and different products.

The heat-wave currently enveloping PE was a good excuse to try out Arniston Bay’s low alcohol spritzer-style “wine-based taste infusions”.

Taste preferences differ – for passionfruit-and-lemonade fans and lovers of tropical tastes, the graviola-passionfruit version is likely to be a hit. For more crisp, green and slightly tangy tastes, try the mint, aloe and lemongrass option. Jazz it up with some fresh mint leaves and you’re onto a winner.

To be sure, they’re not going to appeal to wine connoisseurs but in a big glass with lots of ice, they’re a good sundowner solution on February’s hot, humid days. The Taste Infusions are about R45 at Game, Makro, Prestons and Tops.

Next up, Sparkling Blue – a bubbly blend of Chenin Blanc and blackcurrant extract. Its electric blue colour in a pretty silver-labelled bottle definitely stands out. It’s the brainchild of Cape winemaker Erik Schlünz, who has spent 10 years cultivating the perfect “effervescent bliss”.

It’s fun and funky, low in alcohol and quite sweet, and the bright colour is sure to attract attention, if that’s what you want out of a wine. Taste-wise, it’s a bit like blue Energade fizzed up with a hint of wine, and should be fun for the party set. Available at selected Spar stores for around R70.

From the (slightly) ridiculous to the sublime, brandy is also made from grapes, albeit by different methods, and Collison’s White Gold pot-still brandy is definitely something different.

Pot-still brandy is the South African equivalent of French cognac – matured in oak barrels for at least three years, smooth and full-flavoured and meant to be savoured neat or with just a drop of water, soda or a block of ice.

Collison’s is superb just as it is – soft and super-smooth with hints of vanilla, nuttiness and figs – but also makes for interesting cocktails like a Collison’s Cosmo with Triple Sec, cranberry juice and lemon juice.

Oude Meester is the tried and trusted name in South African brandy and Demant was launched in 2006 to celebrate their diamond anniversary. A blend of fine pot-stilled brandies, matured for five to 10 years, this is a light and elegant brandy to be enjoyed neat. Mix it with ginger ale, bitters and a twist of orange peel for an Oude Meester Franklin.

Definitely not of the brandy-and-coke variety, these retail in the R150-R200 bracket and are made for slow, enjoyable sipping.


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