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Pinotage

A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety...

A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape. A cross between finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, it was created in 1925 and surprised its inventors by being darker and more tannic than either of its parents. Pinotage at first seemed nearly impossible to tame, with its bold profile and wild flavors. While the grape has always had detractors, advances in viticultural and winemaking techniques have since helped to make Pinotage wines more palatable. Today it is a popular South African export both as a single varietal wine and in so-called “Cape blends,” in which Pinotage forms a significant proportion of a blend with other red varieties. It is grown very minimally outside of South Africa.

In the Glass

There is no mistaking the smell of Pinotage—common descriptors include tobacco, smoke, tar, bacon, licorice, hoisin sauce, and burnt rubber, in addition to more run-of-the-mill fruit like plum and blackberry. The flavors are bold, and tannins are firm but sweet—in fact, many Pinotage wines bear more resemblance to Australian Shiraz than to Pinot Noir.

Perfect Pairings

For a wine this powerful, food should be equally bold, and gets bonus points for mirroring Pinotage’s sweet and sour flavors. Classic smoky South African braai (barbecue) is the most obvious match, while grilled curry sausage, lamb biryani, or richly spiced beef stew would be equally welcome at the table.

Sommelier Secret

The name “Pinotage” is a subtle portmanteau: The Pinot part is obvious, but the second half is a bit confusing. In the early 1900s, Cinsault was known in South Africa as “Hermitage”—hence Pinotage. The somewhat less appealing “Herminoir” was also considered.

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  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2004
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS90
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  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2008
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS91
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  • Southern Right Pinotage 2015
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • RP92
    • WS90
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    27
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  • Baobab Pinotage 2001
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS88
    • WE88
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  • Simonsig Pinotage 2003
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS89
    • WE89
    Currently Unavailable $11.79
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    14
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  • Southern Right Pinotage 2014
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • RP91
    • WS90
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    27
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  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2005
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS89
    • WE89
    Currently Unavailable $29.99
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  • Spice Route Pinotage 2007
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS89
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    23
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  • Warwick Estate Pinotage 2011
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS88
    Currently Unavailable $26.99
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    26 99
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  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2013
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS91
    Currently Unavailable $37.99
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    40
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  • Kanonkop Pinotage 2014
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • JS92
    • WS91
    • RP90
    Currently Unavailable $37.99
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  • Fairview Primo Pinotage 2001
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS91
    Currently Unavailable $25.99
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    25 99
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  • Backsberg Pinotage 1999
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS86
    Currently Unavailable $12.99
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    12 99
    12 99
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  • Warwick Estate Pinotage 2005
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS88
    Currently Unavailable $22.99
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    22 99
    22 99
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  • Fairview Pinotage 2005
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS88
    Currently Unavailable $15.99
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    15 99
    15 99
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  • Spice Route Pinotage 2006
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS90
    Currently Unavailable $25.99
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  • Southern Right Pinotage 2007
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS90
    Currently Unavailable $26.99
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    26 99
    26 99
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    1
  • Owen Roe The Kilmore Pinot Noir 2014
    Pinotage from Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
    • WE92
    • WS90
    Currently Unavailable $42.99
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    42 99
    42 99
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  • Spice Route Pinotage 2012
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS90
    Currently Unavailable $19.99
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    19 99
    19 99
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  • Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage 2009
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS87
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    17 99
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  • Simonsig Pinotage 2000
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS89
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    17 99
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  • Indaba Pinotage 2001
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • WS85
    Currently Unavailable $10.99
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    10 99
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  • Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage 2010
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • RP87
    • WS87
    Currently Unavailable $12.99
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    12 99
    12 99
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