Recognise a special time for your wine

* Wine for a special occasion.

Do you buy expensive wine and keep it for a special occasion?

So what would you describe as a special occasion? How often do these landmark events come around? When invited to a dinner party or braai do you select one of these special bottles only to return them and choose an off-the-shelf bottle?

As someone guilty of all of the above, I recently broke out of my wine zone when my son Craig visited from England.

Craig’s beverage of choice is beer but that is not to say that he is a wine philistine.

Like most youngsters he’s spent time in the hospitality industry including doing a sommelier course at one of the Waterfront’s finest restaurants.

He knows a good wine and can sniff, swirl and swallow with the best of them. And that is what we did in Betty’s Bay after selecting a few bottles from my wine rack back home. But what was even more impressive was his passion for the good old fashioned braai.

As any of my weekend-away mates will tell you, I’m a stickler for a braai fire. No firelighters for me. They’re stinky and taint the food and the air. As a Brownie, you can give me scrunched up newspaper and a few pine cones and I’ll give you glowing coals.

Craig and I went shopping for meat, accompaniments and braai wood – he scoffed at the bags of alien wood offered by our host.

It was a painfully slow process, not only because the meat was not to his liking but neither was the marinade. Queuing at the tills at last, he vanished only to return with a huge bag of wood, eyes alight. He had found gold in the form of an enormous bag of Kameeldoring. “It’s the driest wood and makes perfect coals,” he smiled.

Later, scrunching pages of newspaper for the fire, he popped the cork of Wolfkloof Winery’s 2016 Chardonnay.

Memories came flooding back of a time when MJ and I travelled to Robertson in her old bakkie. “I see you girls brought the toys,” said a guy at Nuy on the Hill, seeing bicycles in the back and kayaks on top. We glowed. Setting off to our tented camp on the river we off loaded and paddled upstream where we spotted an owl perched over the water. Magic.

The next day we paddled downstream through a veil of drizzle searching out a fish eagle perched overhead. A group of campers celebrating a 21st birthday took us up on a request for coffee which they served at the water’s edge.

Later we cycled into a gorge tucked into a fold of the Langeberg behind Robertson. Chased by snarling dogs we arrived at Wolfkloof. Sitting on the deck, enjoying the place, we tasted wines recently bottled and poured by winemaker, proprietor Jan Kannemeyer. They were unlabelled and, the only charge was our feedback and favour, easily returned. Our only dilemma was how to transport bottles on bikes. No problem. Jan would deliver them next day.

Back to the braai. My favourite part is roosterbrood and potatoes roasted in foil but I have given up on them over the years after ending up with charcoal teeth and potatoes raw on one side, burnt on the other.

Not with Craig. Raising the grid the sarmies cooked slowly, the tomatoes and onions soft, the cheese sizzling. “This is how you know if potatoes are ready,” he said dropping one of them.

Making a satisfying thud he gently squeezed it and nodded his approval. As for the meat, he sliced it open, moist and pink in the middle, brown around the edge. Jimmy’s marinade added to the flavour.

Sipping wine reminded me once again that it’s not about the destination but about the journey.

Whether on bicycle or car, on the way to your accommodation or on a wine tour, buy a bottle or a case, mark it and store it and you are sure to relive memories of that time.