Want to know more about South African wine? Looking for the best South African wines to try? Read our expert guide from Kate Hawkings, then check out where to eat and drink in Cape Town.


About South African wine

2020 was a tough year for so many, and the wine industry was no exception. Despite a sharp upturn in sales of wine to drink at home, the closure of bars and restaurants over lockdown led to an overall drop in wine sales of nearly 50% in the UK, a pattern mirrored across the world. All wine-producing regions have been affected, but some have had it worse than others.

South Africa suffered a double whammy when its government imposed anti-Covid measures, calling a halt on wine exports for five weeks in March and a ban on all sales of alcohol in the country that was only lifted in the middle of August. The cost has already been high, with wineries and grape growers going out of business, and thousands of jobs being lost.

The anti-apartheid trade boycotts, largely led by consumers, not only played a major part in dismantling South Africa’s oppressive regime in the early 1990s but also kickstarted its modern wine industry. It is now one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic, producing around 850 million litres a year, which range from budget supermarket bottles made in vast quantities to wines that stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s best, and with plenty of interesting options in between.

Environmental sustainability is taken seriously in South Africa (drought is a constant threat) and there are compulsory measures in place to protect the unique biodiversity and preserve it for future generations.

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South Africa is also addressing its troubled history of racial inequality. Impressive initiatives include the Land of Hope Trust established in 2007, with the primary objective of providing high-quality education not previously available to black children, and to encourage more people of colour to enter the wine-making business. Another is Bosman Adama, formed in 2009 when it gave its workers a 26% share in the business and its vineyards, and created facilities to improve the working conditions, health and education of those workers and their families. Last year it launched Adama Wines, which is run by an all-black team of women. There are now some 65 black-owned wine companies, and while black winemakers are still very much in a minority, their numbers are slowly increasing.

10 best South African wines at a glance

  • Best easy-drinking South African red: Villiera Shiraz Merlot 2019, £9
  • Best Fairtrade red: Bosman Adama Fairtrade Red, £9.25
  • Best sweet South African wine: Heaven on Earth Muscat d’Alexandrie, £10
  • Best budget chenin blanc: Morrisons The Best Chenin Blanc, £6
  • Best budget South African white: Aldi Cambalala South African Sauvignon Blanc, £4.95
  • Best chenin blanc: Waitrose Blueprint Fairtrade Chenin Blanc, £8.99
  • Best South African sauvignon blanc: Amandla Our Future Sauvignon Blanc 2022, £9
  • Best South African pinot gris: White Lies, £17.45
  • Best sustainable South African wine: Bosman VIII Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec, £9

10 best South African wines to buy 2023

Villiera Shiraz Merlot 2019

Shiraz merlot

Best easy-drinking South African red

Robust yet very gluggable, fruity but still fresh. This is made by young black winemaker Nathan Valentine – try it with slow-cooked shoulder of lamb.

Available from:
M&S (£9)

Bosman Adama Fairtrade Red

Bosman Adama wine

Best Fairtrade red

Co-op has long championed South Africa’s Fairtrade wines, including this rich and plummy red with a peppery finish that would suit meaty dishes or vegetarian burgers.

Available from:
Co-op (£9.25)

Heaven on Earth Muscat d’Alexandrie

Stellar-Heaven on Earth Muscat

Best sweet South African wine

Made from grapes dried on straw to concentrate their sugars. Sweet and luscious but not too sticky – a perfect partner for fruity puds or a soft blue cheese.

Available from:
Ocado (£10)

Morrisons The Best Chenin Blanc

A bottle of Morrisons The Best Chenin Blanc

Best budget chenin blanc

Gently oaked South African at a fantastic price, that balances honeyed tropical fruit with green apple crispness.

Available from:
Morrisons (£6)

Aldi Cambalala South African Sauvignon Blanc

white wine bottle

Best budget South African white wine

A grassy and herbaceous SB with savoury green pepper notes and juicy, clean, bright fruit. Drink with this green vegetable risotto.

Available from:
Aldi (£4.95)

Waitrose Blueprint Fairtrade Chenin Blanc

Waitrose Blueprint Fairtrade Chenin Blanc

Best chenin blanc

Really appetising and moreish with tart green apples, citric zest and bright, refreshing acidity. A winner with our fried chicken sandwich.

Available from:
Waitrose (£8.99)

Amandla Our Future Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Amandla Our Future Sauvignon Blanc_

Best South African sauvignon blanc

Joyous sauv blanc full of gooseberries, passion fruit and limey zest, made by a brilliant South African wine company run entirely by black women. An easy glugging wine.

Available from:
Sainsbury's (£9)

White Lies

A bottle of White Lies wine

Best South African pinot gris

Copper-coloured pinot gris with a little skin contact – ripe peachy fruit and pretty floral notes.

Available from:
Nouveau Wines (£17.45)

Bosman VIII Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec

Bosman VIII Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec

Best sustainable South African wine

A South African winery in organic conversion which also does brilliant work in plant conservation, energy efficiency and education. This modern, breezy red blend would be great served slightly chilled with this ’nduja pepperonata stew.

Available from:
Sainsbury’s (£9)

Check out more regional wine guides here:


Best Georgian wine
Best Sicilian wine
Best Greek wine
Best German wine
Best Hungarian wine
Best English wine
Best Portuguese red wine
Best Italian red wine
Best Madeira wines
Best Bordeaux wine
Best Stellenbosch wine
Best urban wines


Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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