There are three main types of Sunday Braai wine, The Preparation Wine, The Fire Smoke Wine and then the Braai Wine itself.
Spring is about rediscovering Sunday Braai Wine in all its majestic forms, and so I force the uneasy memories of fighting last summer’s ravaging wildfires on our farm to the back of my mind and open a box of matches.
Before you strike, there is the Preparation Wine. This is the wine you open before reading the back page of the Sunday Times, lured there by a South American Beauty wearing not much more than an expression of false freedom. Justifiably terrified in case you glance at the rugby or soccer score, you scrunch the rest of the paper into tight balls for your fire.
Your first confident tingling of brisk Preparation Wine is close at hand – usually a Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc – something fresh and assertive – something to remind you South Africans braai like their culture depends on it. A braai is the glue that keeps the wild south together and softens the raw edges of this land. We braai with serious intent.
Soon enough the smoke is billowing over the garden fence – time for the Fire Smoke wine. The smoke is a sign of course, a communication we all understand in these parts. Your neighbour pops his head over the fence and you pass him a glass of smooth red, maybe a young Pinotage, crafted like a Pinot Noir, slightly chilled. You apologise for the smoke, and explain this is a cool climate, high altitude wine from a new vineyard, only recently discovered.
If winter and summer are the hard covers of climate, then spring and autumn fill the pages with promise and mystery respectively. These “between” seasons are like the magical minutes that connect the flames and the coals of a perfect braai.
This is the time your Fire Smoke Wine comes into its own. It’s vitally important to find something that stands up to the strange wait, because the period between smoking flame and perfect coalis a treacherous chasm of overconfidence – short enough to be riddled with half-completed home-improvement projects, long enough that you start to fidget.
In our collective South African backyard the religious undertaking of a Sunday Braai means your Fire Smoke Wine must not only fill this awkward time, but also stand up to other dangers, like wives without sleep, overdraft discussions, the planning of potential home renovations, blocked drains, lawn mowing and of course… braai smoke.
Eventually the smoking orange flames turn blue and the perfect bed of coals lies at the base of your braai. The time has come for the real deal – the Braai Wine itself.
We’ve all had moments of madness in our lives. Maybe you’ve gone river rafting down the Zambezi in flood, or made the mistake of reading the chemical ingredients on ice cream wrappers. There are many examples of madness we encounter every day, but probably the most calamitous and treacherous is choosing a The Braai Wine without careful consideration.
To be truly happy in life your Braai Wine needs to be much, much more than just a good wine. You are entering the braai-ing gauntlet of potential shame. You need a soul-mate wine.
As the food is presented ceremoniously to those coals, guests circle closer, critically watching your technique – the rhythmic conducting of tongs, the percussion of meat on red hot grid. The heat, as they say, is on.
It is now you need a Braai Wine of magnificent balance and perfect poise. You need a wine with special super powers, because Sundays come bueted by the Black South Easter and hungry kids.
You need a wine that gives you the edge over adventurous venison and dust storms, unexpected guests and Highveld showers. You need a sixth-sense, second sight, fortifying, wisdom-giving wine, because around your sacred fire people are talking politics, business and even yesterday’s sport.
At critical, challenging times like these, you need the support and focus of the perfect Braai Wine.
And that’s what we make at Bonfire Hill.
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