Whether I am going out for a quick drink after class with friends, heading out at night to paint the town red or grabbing lunch at an informal restaurant with the family- I am often let down by the selection of wines that are available- not to mention the corkage fees that some places ask. But before you label me as a “wine snob”, I have actually been quite pleasantly surprised by some of the wines I have found at the most unexpected venues recently.
So being the rock n’ roll chick that I am, I regularly find myself in uncomfortably small bars and live music venues when I go out to see my favourite bands playing. The drinks selection at these kind of gigs usually staggers somewhere between the most common locally made beers on the market to brandy and coke specials and tequila shots. If you are lucky and really desperate to drink something else, there might be the off chance that they sell 500 mL box wine. But that is usually as far as the drinks menu stretches. Until I stumbled upon a small rock n’ roll bar in Cape Town a few years ago. Nestled in one of the side streets between Long and Loop street, you would not expect much of a place that is hardly 80 m2 big. But to my surprise they had a whole list of lovely Stellenbosch wines (red, white, bubbly and sweet) for sale by the bottle or by the glass. And they even adjusted the price range to better suit the younger crowd that stumbles through their doors. It was the first time I could enjoy a glass of decent Shiraz while rocking out to some local bands. It gave way to a whole new experience as a music lover, but also as a wine enthusiast. (Hint-hint to the student bars in Stellenbosch)
I was again pleasantly surprised a few weeks ago when I had a dinner date with a couple of friends at a sushi restaurant in Brackenfell. It was my first time there and as I am not really a great fan of sushi, I did not expect much of the evening- I was crossing my fingers that they at least had good spring rolls. Upon arrival at the teeny-tiny sushi restaurant, situated in the same shopping center as a petrol station in the middle of Cape Town’s Northern Suburbs, needless to say, my expectations were not very high. And I was fearing that my immense thirst for an ice cold glass of Sauvignon blanc would not be quenched. Lucky for me, I was again, proven to be very wrong. Not only did this petite little restaurant have a vast and expansive wine list considering its own physical size, but the wines featured were some of the best that the cool Durbanville wine region has to offer. So I could enjoy my glass of refreshing Sauvignon after all.
While we are talking about restaurants and their wine selections, let’s raise a glass to the few that don’t expect you to pay a ridiculous corkage fee. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and comprehend the concept behind corkage fees- everyone has to make their money somehow, but when you are a student and you have to pay a corkage fee of R50, chances are the fee is going to be more than you paid for your bottle of wine. Luckily, there are still a handful of places you can go that will let you enjoy whichever wine you brought to accompany your meal without it costing you an arm or a leg.
As a wine enthusiast/ foodie/ rock chick/ student, I commend the few venues that comply to my- sometimes outrageous- needs and I salute you for reminding me that you should always judge a venue by its wine list.