One time, in Cape Town, the wine, the wine glass and the sceptic.

In Cape Town, always expect the unexpected !

This little story is a reminder to myself to always keep an open mind, as you never know when you will learn something new, make new friends and be delighted by fresh ideas and interesting people.

I am not a wine lover. Even a “spit ,don’t swallow”  tasting has me slurring, stumbling about ,and results in a mean hangover.

Rather sad considering I live in the Cape, with the best wine in the world on my doorstep.


I am  not a foodie. I like food I can eat, not photograph.

I am unable to get excited about food pairings and new fads in “food fashion”. I like a menu that lists food I have heard of, rather than a work of literature with more adjectives and verbs than nouns.

I am not fond of domestic chores.

So….. I am not sure how I ended up at a wine tasting at I love my laundry, but there I was one Tuesday evening.

I think it is a Cape Town thing. Wonderful people doing interesting  things in strange places.

This was more like a magic  experience than a wine tasting .

It was presented by Tarryn Thomas, representing  Riedel , the glassware company.

Riedel design and manufacture varietal specific  crystal glassware. They contend that the architecture of the glass (specific design of the bowl, stem and base) is key to experiencing all four sensations of a good wine, namely the bouquet, texture, flavour and finish.

In wine ignorant terms, read aroma, feel, taste and aftertaste. 

To start off, each place setting had 4 differently shaped glasses and a  Joker glass.

Tarryn gave us an interesting introduction to the different wine regionsglasses and how the geographical conditions impact on taste. She then spoke about the bouquets and flavours we could expect to taste, while I rolled my eyes, thinking this is all a lot of pretentious nonsense.What happened next did not turn me into a wine lover. It did remove all my scepticism and convince me that glasses make a difference and wine does have a multitude of smells, tastes and aftertastes.

With each wine, we first tasted it using the Joker glass, then we poured it into the correct  glass for the varietal and tasted again. A little prompting from Tarryn assisted in identifying the more subtle aspects of each wine, but the difference was unbelievable. From my unsophisticated knowledge and vocabulary, my comments are next to each wine we tasted.


1. MARQUéS de RISCAL Rueda Sauvignon Blanc 2012. 

In the Joker glass:  YUK, like sucking a mouthful of old coins.  Metallic and sort of dirty tasting, the after taste resulted  in a grimace.

In the Riedel Savignon Blanc glass:  Wow! how did you do that?

I could smell pineapple and a clean summery aroma of something fruity. The taste was refreshing, clean and light, a liquid citrus fruit salad.

2. LOUIS LATOUR Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2011

In the Joker glass: It smelled like old leaves and  mouldy  tree stump. (I like to garden, so I know these things)

In the Riedel Oaked Chardonnay glass: I could smell vanilla and spice.   The taste, with some concentration required, revealed a nutty, woody taste, a medley of flavours and it was very smooth on the palette. (see I am already starting to sprout the lingo)

We then poured and tasted this Chardonnay from a Savignon Blanc glass.  It was almost unpalatable. This truly highlighted the differences in shape between 2 Riedel glasses, and the dramatic influence the shape of the glass has on the aroma & taste of each varietal.

3. BORDEAUX Saint-Estèphe Private Reserve 2009

In the Joker glass:  Heavy and bitter, it had a sour, earthy  smell…….  You know when the fruit bowl needs to be emptied, and those tiny fruit flies are having a feast, and the juice has oozed down to the bottom of the bowl? Well, if you licked that bowl, you get the idea!

In the Riedel Sauvignon Blanc glass:   Rich rather than heavy, very fruity, nothing I could specifically identify, but pleasant and grapey, it made me sleepy, relaxed, warm and a little bit drunk?

4. PETER LEHMANN Barossa Shiraz 2008

In the Joker glass:  GAG! It was like sipping red cough mixture with a hint of used teabags. I wanted  it out my mouth immediately. Taste bud assault deluxe. Give me water NOW!

In the Riedel Shiraz glass:   A velvet smooth texture with a taste of aniseed, a fruity plum flavour and an after taste of honey. I had to take another sip to be sure I was not imagining things. If I were to become a wine drinker or an alcoholic, this would be what I would choose .


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Kind thanks to Tarryn Thomas of The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company (Pty) Ltd. for the words below.

The Riedel Story: 
Legend has it that +-40 years ago a gentleman dining at a restaurant bore witness to the sommelier pouring wine into his water glass by mistake. A ruckus ensued but before the offending glass could be removed, the gentleman asked to taste his wine in that glass. Noticing that certain flavours were emphasised and others down played, he began to wonder whether there was something more scientific about the shape of the glass. That gentleman was Claus Riedel of Riedel glassworks. After much experimentation he found that the bowl shape and glass size affected the way the  ‘nose’ and taste of the wine was captured and directed, deducing that each varietal benefited from a different glass shape and so the varietal-specific wine glass was born.

My clumsy words do not do justice to the wines or the difference the correct glasses make. You really have to experience it to believe it.

These glasses make a superb gift for anyone who enjoys wine and come in a variety of price ranges, starting at very affordable.




Lion’s Head. A walk & scramble to views you will never forget

I will never tire of living in Cape Town, a city that has a great big mountain in the middle of it.


The start of the spiral route up Lion’s Head is a mere 4.5 km from the centre of the CBD and affords 360 degree views of Greater Cape Town.

You will ascend 390 meters over 2,3 kilometers, reaching an elevation of 667 meters above sea level at the summit.

The start is along a broad gravel path with views of Camps Bay, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles range.

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Here is my version of this walk, I am sure your experience will be more energetic!

These photos were taking with my cell phone as I did not have the energy to carry a decent camera.

The views were a good excuse for me to stop and rest and seriously contemplate giving up smoking.

Continuing around the path the first sight of Signal Hill and Sea Point  is the next excellent reason for a rest and photo opportunity. By this stage I was beginning to regret the 1,5 litre flask of coffee, rolls, chips, and other snacks I had in my day pack. More daunting was the view up to where I needed to still get too.

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By this stage my legs were impersonating a jellyfish and the wind was howling at about 60 km / ph.

Small children were overtaking me and men in shorts were running past without signs of the slightest sweat.

Fortunately at that point I decided that one way or another I would get to the top and pure stubborness propelled me forward. As I approached the first ladder my hiking mentor and partner in crime pushed me up before I could remember that I hate heights.

The wind was threatening to blow me right off that mountain, so not caring how foolish I looked I proceeded by hanging on to rocks and crabbing along the path. Some little boys of about 7 told me not be be scared as they leapt from rock to rock with no thought of being blown off, despite being half my weight.

Not impressed at all.

The last 200 meters before reaching the top are a bit of a scramble and I cursed my short legs. More pushes and encouragement from my friend, one more ladder, and I made it. Unfortunately the wind was so strong that we only stayed at the top long enough to have half a cup of ghastly coffee from the huge flask that leaked.

The scramble down was done mainly by sitting on my bottom and sliding in a very dignified manner. By this stage it was almost dark so the skipping, smiling, running children and tourists overtaking me were not quite as offensive.

For normal people, this is a relatively easy walk and a must do if you are visiting Cape Town. Next time, I will leave earlier, take a decent camera and not bother with coffee.

I will definitely be doing it again.

For comprehensive information on the route, geography, fauna and flora of Lion’s Head go to or pick up one of their brochures from the tourism office.