Your South African Wine & Cheese Pairing Guide
Wine Tours Cape Town

Wine and cheese go together like sundowners and safaris. And for those foodies out there planning the ultimate Cape Town tour, indulging in a cheese and wine platter at every vineyard you visit is exactly the stuff that the happiest memories are made of. 

South Africa’s Western Cape is one of the most famous winemaking destinations in the world. The tradition goes back centuries and some of the vineyards are among the oldest and most esteemed in the industry, with the original families still at the helm. 

Many of these wine farms offer tourists to the area a chance to explore their vineyards, learn about winemaking, and, of course, taste their wines which are generally paired with a slice of homemade bread and some cheese. In this fun guide, we’re giving you all the information you need to know so that your Cape Town wine tour is indulgent and full of flavour.

Cheese and Wine Pairings South Africa

The Science of Pairing & Understanding Flavour 

Pairing is something that many in the industry consider an art and it involves selecting cheeses that complement specific wines with the ultimate goal of creating a more enjoyable and harmonious flavour experience. And it goes beyond simply putting cheese and wine on a plate together.

Before you head out on your pairing adventure, you need to know the science behind why pairing is such a big deal.

  • Cheese Can Bring Out the Flavours of the Wine 

Pairing considers the cheese’s texture, intensity, and fat content alongside the wine’s body, acidity, and tannins. When these elements complement each other, the flavours of both the cheese and the wine are accentuated, creating a richer and more complex taste. 

  • It Balances the Palate

Certain cheeses can be rich and fatty, while some wines might be high in acidity. Pairing them strategically can help balance these elements on your palate, preventing one from overpowering the other, and allowing you to enjoy both of the flavours fully. 

  • Pairing Creates Surprises for Your Taste Buds 

Unexpected pairings can create some delightful flavours that all foodies will appreciate. For example, a strong blue cheese might find a surprising harmony with a sweet dessert wine, creating a delightful contrast.

Cape Town Wine Tours

Where to Indulge in a Cheese and Wine Pairing while Touring the Western Cape 

You will not find it very difficult to find a cheese and wine pairing establishment when you are on your Cape Town tour. Most wineries will offer this experience on their menu or as a part of a vineyard tour. When planning your ultimate wine tour in the Cape, some areas are better than others. 

Stellenbosch and Franschhoek

The Western Cape is a haven for wine lovers, but those seeking a truly unforgettable experience, should focus the attention of the tours on Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. 

These two small towns are renowned for their culinary scene and while the city of Cape Town should definitely be on your map, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are where you will have the most authentic tours, complete with age-old farms where guests can walk around, stunning landscapes, incredible architecture and a culinary crowd who appreciate fine dining and fine wines as much as you do.  

When in Stellenbosch you must visit

  • De Grendel Wine Estate: This acclaimed estate offers guided cellar tours all throughout the week while its tasting room is open on weekends and public holidays as well. 
  • Fairview Wine and Cheese: A name synonymous with cheese in South Africa, Fairview offers a unique cheese-tasting experience. When visiting, you can pair their renowned goat cheeses with a selection of their own wines.
  • Dornier Wine Estate: At Dornier, you can experience a “Cheese Odyssey” where a knowledgeable staff will guide you through a selection of South African cheeses paired with their elegant wines.
  • Warwick Estate: At Warwick Estate, you can enjoy a slower pace, making it the ideal place to stop for a break. The estate offers wine tastings paired with a cheese platter, a vegan platter, or a charcuterie. 

When in Franschhoek you must visit

  • Bosman Family Vineyards: You simply must indulge in a luxurious “Cheese & Charcuterie Pairing” when visiting the Bosman Family Vineyards. Their selection of artisanal cheeses, sourced from all over South Africa, is paired with their exceptional wines, creating a delicious flavour combination.
  • Le Quartier Français: This boutique winery offers a pairing that will let you sample a curated selection of local cheeses alongside the winery’s acclaimed Bordeaux-style blends, all in a beautiful setting amidst the Franschhoek Valley.
  • Môreson Wine Estate: Môreson offers a unique Chocolate & Cheese Pairing experience for those seeking something a little different. This option gives visitors the chance to indulge in award-winning wines that complement both the rich flavours of the chocolate and the creamy and tangy profiles of local cheeses.

These are only a handful of examples, and many other wineries in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and in places like Paarl, offer cheese pairing experiences as well. 

For the most part, you won’t be able to simply drop by to sample wines. This is why it is important to check winery websites or call ahead for reservations, especially during peak season, or to book a Cape Town wine tour with a reputable travel company.

Cape Town Wine Tours Cheese Pairings

South African Cheesemakers 

Just like South Africa has a spectacular wine-making culture, this nation is also pretty wild about cheese. With a rich Dutch and French heritage, cheesemaking is a natural part of the culinary culture and its history is almost as old as the vineyards. 

While touring the wine farms around Cape Town is made easy with a tour, some of South Africa’s most famous cheese makers aren’t in the city, instead, they are spread out across the country. So while you might not be able to visit these establishments during your tour, you should be able to find their cheeses in the Cape. 

Cremalat Cheese

Cremalat, is famous being a haven for cheese connoisseurs and their cheese creations promise to waltz your tastebuds away. 

Their philosophy is “Freshness is king”. By using traditional cheese-making methods, with a touch of uniquely South African flair, they create a symphony of cheeses, from the creamy feta perfect for summer salads to the robust Gouda that begs to be paired with a glass of Pinotage. 

Cheese & More Deli

Don’t be fooled by their humble name, Cheese & More Deli is just the place for cheese lovers. Their speciality is an ever-evolving selection of goat cheeses, each with its own complex flavour profile. Think tangy herb-infused rounds, delicate honey-washed chèvre, and even a robust blue cheese with an unexpected hint of rooibos tea. 

Bella Cheeza Deli and Winery

For those who prioritise sophistication, Bella Cheeza makes the best kind of cheese. Their focus is on aged cheeses, each matured in on-site caves to achieve their famous depth of flavour. 

Their award-winning cheddar is a revelation, boasting a rich nuttiness and a satisfying crystal crunch. They also offer decadent blue cheeses with veins of emerald and sapphire, perfect for a post-dinner cheeseboard. 

Popular Wines in South Africa

Wine & Cheese Pairing Recommendations 

Now that you know why you should be pairing your wines with cheese, and you know where you should be headed to have such an experience, we’re going to give you some suggestions to try out. But remember, the best pairing experience is the one recommended by the vineyard you visit, as no one knows wine quite like those who make and sell it. The pairing menus at Cape Town’s most famous wine establishments have a dynamic range of pairing options that are put together using the best kind of experience. 

To give you a little bit of inspiration, here are 4 pairing ideas you can try. 

Sauvignon Blanc & Goat Cheese

South African Sauvignon Blancs are renowned for their zippy acidity and bursts of tropical fruit flavours, like passionfruit and guava. To complement and bring out this flavour, a tangy goat cheese is ideal. Think creamy rounds dotted with fresh herbs or a delicate chèvre drizzled with honey. The acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the cheese, while the fruit flavours echo the herbal notes, creating the most exceptional taste. 

Chenin Blanc & Mature Cheddar

This is a combination you can try when in Stellenbosch and this pairing is quite bold. Chenin Blanc, known as South Africa’s white chameleon (it is made with white grapes), can range from dry and unoaked to lusciously sweet, and pairs beautifully with a mature cheddar, especially if you choose the drier wine. The cheese’s sharpness stands up to the wine’s acidity, while the honeyed notes in the Chenin Blanc find a delightful echo in the nutty complexity of the aged cheddar.

Pinotage & Gouda

Pinotage, South Africa’s signature red grape, is famous for its notes of black fruit like plums and cherries, along with hints of earth and spice goes well with a rich Gouda. A young Gouda, in particular, offers a creamy texture and a mild sweetness, complementing the fruitiness of the Pinotage. As the Gouda ages, it develops a sharper bite and a nutty complexity, mirroring the earthier notes of the wine, making it a perfect partner for a more mature Pinotage.

Cabernet Sauvignon & Blue Cheese

For the adventurous palate, this pairing might just blow you away! South African Cabernet Sauvignons are known for their full-bodied taste with their dark fruit notes of blackcurrant and blackberry, and firm tannins. To stand up to this incredible flavour, a pungent blue cheese is the answer. 

The creamy texture of the cheese cuts right through the tannins of the wine, while the sharp, salty notes balance the sweetness of the dark fruit. The blue cheese’s characteristic piquant flavour works well with the Cabernet Sauvignon’s peppery finish, creating a truly delectable cheeseboard finale.

We don’t know about you, but this guide has our mouths watering!

If you are planning to visit a few vineyards during your Cape Town tour, be sure to have a look at our spectacular selection of wine tours.