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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 2014
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • JS92
    • WS91
    • RP90
    Currently Unavailable $37.99
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  • Warwick Estate Pinotage 2006
    Pinotage from South Africa
    • W&S90
    Currently Unavailable $22.99
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  • MAN Vintners Pinotage 2013
    Pinotage from South Africa
      Currently Unavailable $8.99
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      11
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    • Fleur du Cap Pinotage 2005
      Pinotage from South Africa
        Currently Unavailable $10.79
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      • Warwick Estate Pinotage 2003
        Pinotage from South Africa
        • WE88
        Currently Unavailable $19.99
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      • Warwick Estate Pinotage 2004
        Pinotage from South Africa
          Currently Unavailable $19.99
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          19 99
          19 99
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        • MAN Vintners Pinotage 2005
          Pinotage from South Africa
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            11 99
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          • MAN Vintners Pinotage 2006
            Pinotage from South Africa
              Currently Unavailable $9.79
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            • Kanonkop Pinotage 2005
              Pinotage from South Africa
              • WS89
              • WE89
              Currently Unavailable $29.99
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              34 99
              29 99
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            • Kanonkop Pinotage 2004
              Pinotage from South Africa
              • WS90
              Currently Unavailable $19.99
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              19 99
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            • KWV Pinotage 2003
              Pinotage from South Africa
                Currently Unavailable $9.99
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                12 99
                9 99
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              • Riebeek Cellars Kasteelberg Pinotage 2015
                Pinotage from Swartland, South Africa
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                  20 99
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                • Nederburg Pinotage Paarl 2012
                  Pinotage from South Africa
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                    8 99
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                  • Zonnebloem Pinotage 2003
                    Pinotage from South Africa
                      Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                      8 99
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                    • Graham Beck Pinotage 2003
                      Pinotage from South Africa
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                      • Kanonkop Pinotage 2007
                        Pinotage from South Africa
                        • WE90
                        Currently Unavailable $24.99
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                      • Delheim Wines Pinotage 2010
                        Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa
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                        • Arra Vineyards Pinotage 2010
                          Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa
                            Currently Unavailable $11.99
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                          • Slaley Broken Stone Pinotage 2003
                            Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa
                              Currently Unavailable $6.99
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                              6 99
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                            • Rijk's Private Cellar Pinotage 2012
                              Pinotage from South Africa
                                Currently Unavailable $27.99
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                              • Arra Vineyards Pinotage 2009
                                Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa
                                  Currently Unavailable $12.99
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                                • Cape Dreams Pinotage 2011
                                  Pinotage from South Africa
                                    Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                                    8 99
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                                  • Slaley Broken Stone Pinotage 2002
                                    Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa
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                                    • Spier Signature Pinotage 2014
                                      Pinotage from South Africa
                                        Currently Unavailable $8.99
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                                        8 99
                                        8 99
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                                      • Middelvlei Wines Free-Run Pinotage 2012
                                        Pinotage from Stellenbosch, South Africa
                                          Currently Unavailable $9.99
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                                          9 99
                                          9 99
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