Pinotage in your glass

Date posted:
March 8, 2012

Pinotage grapes are primarily used to make red wines. However, the variety is so versatile that it is also used to make rosé wines of various hues, bubblies, fortified wines, dry white wines and brandies – all with different aromas and flavours and some best enjoyed chilled.


Even in terms of red pinotage there are various styles. The following descriptions are the typical varietal characteristics of pinotage – best stored at between 10º and 16ºC, best served at between 16º and 18ºC.




In the centre, deep ruby to crimson. On the rim/edges, fuchsia-purple to brick red.




Associations include plum, black cherry, mulberry, strawberry, occasionally raspberry and bramble, sometimes spice and cloves. Certain wines have a banana/mango aroma.




When young, packed with plum and berry flavours, then softening and developing associations with prune, cherry, cassis as well as red and black berries. Medium to full-bodied, sometimes with a sweet sensation on the finish – long, layered – and with a complexity that makes pinotage age well for up to 10 years and more. Maturation in oak barrels can add cedar, vanilla and toasted flavours.


The Pinotage Aroma Wheel © (Copyright J Marais & NP Jolly) was developed to contain all the characteristic aromas of the wines produced from pinotage grapes. These aromas are derived from the grape, are formed during fermentation and are extracted from wood during storage.


The aroma terms are arranged in two tiers, the inner tier containing more general and the outer tier more specific descriptors. Tasters of pinotage wines may either use the inner tier and work outwards to identify the more precise descriptor, or match his/her sensory perception with the outer descriptors and make the connection with the main aroma terms in the inner tier.



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