So you want to spend the day wine tasting but your friends and family are being Debbie Downers – your friend Gary complains that he doesn’t drink wine and wants to go spirit tasting instead, while the kids are whining that there’s nothing for them to do while you’re sipping away. And, don’t even get us started on the designated driver or friends who don’t drink. But fear not, I’ve found a magical place that will make everyone happy – kids, non-drinkers, and even those pesky friends who claim they don’t like wine (they do exist). With 10 different pairing options on offer, the KWV Wine Emporium in Paarl is a winner of note when it comes to pleasing everyone in your entourage. I got the chance to sample just three of these incredible pairings and was blown away by the sheer variety on offer. From a Biltong, Nut & Wine pairing to a Gin & Charcuterie pairing and even a Loose Leaf Tea & Chocolate pairing, there really is something to suit every taste.
The thing I love most about the KWV Wine Emporium is that you can easily spend the whole day there – especially in winter. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and declare that it’s pretty much the best winter find in the history of ever. History buffs and wine lovers will no doubt want to start the day off with a cellar tour of the 22 hectares property where you can hear all about the history of KWV and see super cool sights like Big Bill (dating back to 1843 it is the oldest vat in the KWV complex with a capacity of almost 22 000 liters of wine!) and the breathtakingly beautiful Cathedral Cellar with its high dome-shaped ceiling and chapel-style stained glass windows (dating back to 1930 this cellar also houses a collection of ornate carved wooden vats depicting the history of winemaking in South Africa). It’s a fabulous educational tour and is a definite must when visiting the KWV Emporium. You can do add the tour onto any pairing experience or opt for the cellar tour and wine tasting experience (including 6 wines) for just R50.
Something else that really struck me about the KWV Wine Emporium is how darn cheap all the pairing experiences are. Forget forking out upwards of R150 per person for a pairing experience, at KWV you get an incredible setting and beyond delicious pairings starting from as little as R35! It’s also this excellent pricing that allows you to spend the whole day at KWV without blinking an eye. You can easily fit in three tasting and pairing experiences, a cellar tour, and leave with a bottle or two of your favourite wine at cellar door prices for under R300 per person. I also love how unique the tasting offerings are; since its opening in 2001, the KWV Wine Emporium has experimented with creative pairings to ensure that guests experience a truly unique partnership between food and wine.
Our tasting experience at KWV started with a divine Cheesecake & Laborie MCC pairing (3 glasses of bubbly paired with 3 mini cheesecakes – R80). It’s an incredible price for an MCC pairing and the cheesecakes paired with the bubbles are beyond delicious. It’s a sweet tooth’s dream and is a great way to start or end your visit to KWV. Next up was the Wine and Artisan Pie tasting featuring 4 award-winning KWV The Mentors Wines with 4 mini artisan pies (R80). This was by far my favourite of the tastings for the day and if you love savoury dishes like me then you will also adore this pairing. The pies vary from unique local flavours to a classic lamb shank pasticcio but my favourite pairing in this tasting was the full-bodied Mentors Canvas paired with a moreish mini bobotie pasticcio pie. On the ride home I was still craving this little bite of heaven and so wished I had the guts to ask who I had to bribe to get a full-sized version to take home with me.
Last, but certainly, not least I got the chance to try the Sweet Wine/Liqueur & Cake tasting. This fortified wine and cake tasting with a twist includes 4 delicious mini-cakes paired with 4 sweet wines and liquors (R60). The oh-so-decadent mini cakes are accompanied by two of KWV’s Fortified wines (the award-winning KWV Cape Tawny and the KWV Red Muscadel) as well as two KWV liqueurs (the KWV Van der Hum Liqueur and the Wild Africa Cream Liqueur). Delicate and complex in flavour each cake is a taste sensation on its own and has been lovingly baked to perfectly accompany the wines and liqueurs on offer. The winner for me was the Tawny port paired with a miniature apple and pecan nut cake.
While I was a guest at KWV for the day visitors can easily repeat the same triple treat tasting experience I enjoyed for just R220 per person. I would highly recommend it as a day out for a birthday, kitchen tea, or anniversary celebration. If you have a designated driver they can enjoy a grape juice tasting and pairing (also a great option for kids!) or the Loose Leaf Tea & Chocolate tasting (4 teas and 4 chocolates – R60). If there are less than 10 people in your party then there’s no need to book, just pop in and start tasting! The tasting room is open Monday – Saturday from 09:00 – 16:30 (including public holidays) and Sunday from 11:00 – 16:00.
For more information on the KWV tasting offerings visit the KWV Wine Emporium website. Find the KWV Wine Emporium at Kohler Street, Southern Paarl, Western Cape.