The term ‘Wine Tasting’ is synonymous with free wine and an opportunity to mingle and meet people. In this post we introduce red wine label, The High Road, and provided tips on getting the most out of your next wine tasting.

I recently joined the owners of winery, The High Road, Les Sweidan and Mike Church, for a wine tasting on the shores of Umhlanga. The High Road is a brand that has been built on four unwavering pillars of distinction: exclusive sourcing of quality grapes from Stellenbosch, a single-minded focus on Bordeaux varietals, an insistence on using a considered selection of fine French Oak barrels, and proprietary High Road Practices. The High Road is at the forefront of red varietals in South Africa and has many accolades in support of its luxurious taste and aroma.

Our tasting took place at the stylish Little Havana restaurant in the Granada Square, Umhlanga. Little Havana describes itself as “a splash of Cuba, a dash of plantations and a slice of KwaZulu-Natal colonialism”. It was voted the Best Steakhouse in South Africa in 2015 and its grills are accompanied by world class seafood and the very best South African wines. We were met with smiles from the friendly staff and the smells of the ocean.

wine tasting

Les, Candice and Mike



The High Road has three distinctive reds in its repertoire.

The Cabernet Sauvignon which consists of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Classique a red blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc and 29% Merlot.

The Director’s Reserve a 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot blend.

In my opinion, they are some of the best “Bordeaux style wines*” in South Africa; rich, elegant, bold with velvety smooth finishes. Perfect with a meal or to be enjoyed on their own, these boutique wines are truly something special. Produced in small batches, with a focus of quality over quantity, and providing an exclusive drinking experience.

*Bordeaux style wine is a red wine made from grapes that are authorized for use in the Bordeaux region of France. These are primarily: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot (but Petit Verdot and Malbec are also often included).



A common wine tasting misperception is that the act of drinking is the most important part. This is far from the truth. Our tasting experience is heavily dependent on, and affected by, the aroma. Our nose can recognize over 100,000 impressions while our tongue can only recognize 10,000 impressions. Some wine critics say that “nose” accounts for 90% of the wine tasting experience. Remember, your nose is a muscle and the more you practice your sniffer, the better you get at picking up different characteristics in wine.  It is exactly for this reason that great chefs insist on serving their masterpieces immediately when hot so that the guests can savour every aroma profile.

It is important to keep sniffing your wine to get a holistic tasting experience. The bouquet or nose of a wine will change over time. For example, the bouquet of a High Road Classique can start off with Dark chocolate nuances with a gentle release of vanilla; then progress to cedar, mocha, blackcurrants and violets.



Next time you are invited to a wine tasting or pairing, remember these basic steps to ensure you experience the wine to its full potential.

It is important to hold the wine glass by the stem. When holding the glass by the bowl, one’s body temperature warms the glass. As we want to serve each glass at its optimal temperature, the unintentional warming is undesirable.

Observe: tip your glass slightly to the side and analyse the colour of the wine against a white background like a napkin. Is your white wine yellow, gold or green? Or is your red wine ruby, purple or inky? The colour often gives a clue to the taste. Check the clarity of the wine, a murky wine could indicate that it has gone off (or less often, it could be an unfiltered wine).

Smell: give the glass a good swirl before taking a quick clean-check sniff. If not faulty, take a generous sniff to identify the aroma categories and specific impressions.

Taste: swirl the wine around the tongue. Observe its sweetness, body, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour intensity.

Most importantly, enjoy the experience, trust your nose and your taste buds and always try something new. No observation is wrong.


The High Road will be releasing new vintages later this month.  If you would like to be part of a tasting/pairing or would just like to gain some experience, don’t hesitate to contact me. At The Drinks Company, we are always ready to help supply, reimagine and define all things wine. We look forward to spoiling your taste buds.

Candice Dagger: 076 282 0040 or [email protected]



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