Friday, November 12, 2021



Who knew that the wine industry in South Africa would take such a knock due to the COVID pandemic. Lockdowns! Shut Outs! Restrictions! Social Distancing! Ban on Booze! 

One year and four months later, the industry is still limping along. At time of writing, liquor sales are only allowed Mondays - Thursdays 10:00 - 18:00 and no public holidays. ( I was caught AGAIN)  Hospitality and tourism in the country are suffering too. From complete business shut downs to people working only two days a week to keep a few Rands in each one's pocket and bread on the table. 

STOP THE SPREAD is the rallying cry. Restrictions on the number of people allowed in restaurants, restrictions on numbers at gatherings: graduations, weddings, parties or funerals. The 'After tears  parties' - the vigil or celebration that takes place after a funeral - has become a COVID 19 super-spreader and has been stopped in its tracks. Needless to say: 'After tears parties' are also great gatherings for alcohol consumption. It is here where one remembers the dead. Their past foibles and fancies. Your own experiences with them - good and bad. The more you drink - the more you remember the things you would rather forget. This is what we call 'dronk verdriet'. 

With so many booze-less funerals taking place, I see a huge business opportunity. 

After Tears Events Co.

The Booze:

1. Create a partnership with a national liquor chain and delivery service. Or wholesale company that produces both wine, spirits, and RTD (ready to drink beverages)

2. Booze and soft drinks to order via special WhatsApp number or similar app five days before the event. Delivery within 48 hours of payment. 

3. Limit the selection.. number of wines; spirits; beers; soft drinks etc. (minimum value/ amount) 

The Event 

1. Create a Zoom account - After Tear Events

2. Events take place once or twice a week (possibly Fridays and Saturdays) or/ and Sunday afternoons X 2 .  People can register for the Event at a nominal charge of R50 per connection -  Do the math. Various Zoom options available.  

3. People can send in pictures and anecdotes of their loved one that you share on the screen at 15 minute intervals. This must be slick and professionally done - played to great background music.  

4. Allow video for all participants who wish to show video, but mute all audio (mics)  

5. Zoom in on participants and their food and drinks table throughout the Event. 

6. Have a cool mix of music for participants to cry, enjoy or groove to. 

7. Each Event lasts 90 minutes. Tell participants that they can continue their life-celebration in remembrance of their loved one after you conclude. 


Any out there willing to take this opportunity to another level? Drop me a line 😊😊

Monday, April 17, 2017


A visit to Plaisir de Merle at the foothills of the majestic Simonsberg between Paarl and Franschhoek is always a nostalgic affair. I well remember the grand opening of the new cellar in 1993 with Niel Bester at the helm. Niel’s philosophy of minimal human intervention hasn’t changed much in the last 25 years, as he continues to harvest quality fruit from a diversity of soils, slopes and elevations resulting in the award-winning wines from this cellar.

The recent celebration was the launch of the limited edition 2013 Charles Marais, an exquisite blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Niel considers this the pinnacle of blends produced in his 25 years as Cellar Master. The wine is named after the founder of Plaisir de Merle, Charles Marais, who fled religious persecution in France and sailed to the Cape in 1687. He was granted land by Governor Simon van der Stel in 1693 and named the farm after his home town Le Plessis Marly. Says Niel: “It would have been a fine moment for me to share a glass of this wine with the man who had the vision to set in place vineyards that to this day has a profound impact on how we make our wine.”

Niel explains that the grapes were hand-harvested in the early morning when the fruit was at its most flavourful. After hand-sorting, the grapes were de-stalked and crushed separately. Each variety was fermented separately in 5000litre stainless steel tanks. After alcoholic fermentation, a period of maceration followed when the skins remained in contact with the wine for two weeks. Following 16 months in new French 300litre barrels, the finest barrels showing the purest varietal character were selected for the final blend. A further six months in 3rd fill French oak followed before the wine was bottled without prior filtration. Two years in bottle further develops complexity and structure says Niel.

Each part of the blend brings a unique dimension to the whole remarks Niel: ‘The Cabernet Sauvignon brings red berries, dark fruit and juicy tannins to the blend, while the Cabernet Franc adds blueberries and a herbaceous note. The Petit Verdot contributes forest berries and spice as well as some firm tannin. The Merlot lifts the blend with aromatic violets whilst French oak delivers flavours of pencil shavings, sweet vanilla and spice.‘

Colour: Dark inky plum.
Nose: Multi-layered; aromatic.
Taste: Full bodied; Red berries and dark fruit with sweet vanilla and spicy overtones.


The wine was superb with the tender braised lamb shoulder, gem squash, gremolata and confit garlic prepared by chef Bertus Basson.

The limited stock (only 750 X 6 bot cases) of 2013 Charles Marais is available from the cellar door and selected retailers at around R1050.00 per bottle.

Contact: or 0218741071

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Situated at Shop 110 - The Rockwell, Napier Street Green Point, The Mess, Restaurant & Bar offers casual dining with good food in a convivial and elegant setting.

THE  NAME – The word mess dates back to the 15th century when a group of people who ate together was known as a ‘mess’ and brings to mind the military and naval tradition of referring to the dining hall where soldiers and sailors ate as ‘the mess’. The mess, historically, was a communal dining space; a home away from home - a place of companionship and camaraderie.  The word ‘mess’ also has its roots in the old French word mes, meaning a portion of food. And who can deny that eating good food with friends can sometimes be a messy affair.
THE OWNER  Carlene de Gouveia envisaged The Mess being the social hub of food and wine loving Capetonians and visitors alike. It’s a place to meet, hang out, celebrate and bring the family for a delicious supper where you don’t have to do the dishes.

While globe-trotting across many countries Carlene noted her favourite dishes and kept them stored in her memory bank for when she would open her own spot in her beloved City-by-the-sea.
THE CHEF  Luke Wonnacott of Lukefoodalways Consultancy worked with Carlene to create an eclectic menu that focuses on shared plates of good quality fresh ingredients. Platings are attractive and bursting with natural colour, a preview of the delicious celebration of flavours to follow. The menu, while varied, is quite small making sure that each dish is expertly prepared using only the freshest, finest ingredients.

THE FOOD If you like communal dining, try portions of Saldanha Bay oysters, with mignonette vinaigrette; or the confit pork belly with smoked apple and braised cabbage or the generously-sized sharing plates of yoghurt and thyme flatbreads with mezze of French confit duck rillette and pickled beetroot, white bean and tahini Pâté with pine nut and mint vinaigrette and pickled goats’ cheese with Moroccan nut dukkha.
The menu includes: Asian Beef Tataki with ponzu dressing complemented by a serving of lime-infused tuna ceviche with a coriander and spring onion salad; a Mexican spicy squid taco with smoky mayo or pork belly taco with smoked apple and charred corn slaw. Be tempted by Italian Aubergine Melanzane with grilled aubergine, fior de latte, tomato ragout, pine nut and Parmesan crumble which is as tempting as the fall-off-the-bone American Southern staple of pork loin ribs which of course, should be eaten with your hands.
If sharing is not your style then order your own: Choices are varied from a Cape Malay vegetable curry with smoked apricot couscous, flatbreads and tomato chili jam; Angus rib-eye or beef fillet with sides of charred broccoli and dukkha, thick cut fries and truffle mayo and confit crackling pork belly, braised red cabbage, smoked apple, and fennel jus.

The Desserts – choose from a traditional crème brûlée, or delight in the dark chocolate lava cake which is served with white chocolate and lime ice cream and roasted hazelnuts or indulge the Fromage Blanc Eton Mess – a fromage blanc and vanilla panna cotta with meringue shards, naartjie sorbet and seasonal berries. Or share the delectable Cannoli to go with your coffee.

The drinks – enjoy a cocktail from the list of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at the spacious bar or choose a wine from the changing selection of wines from Carlene’s cellar.

The elegant outside area is protected and prettily lit up with fairy lights and is ideal for balmy summer evening dining. So call some friends; stay for dinner and feel at home– because it’s a helluva MESS.

The Mess, Restaurant & Bar is situated at Shop 110 - The Rockwell, Napier Street Green Point. Open Monday to Saturday from 18h00 till late. The kitchen closes at 22h00. For dinner reservations please call 021 418 3910 or book online at

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


There’s a Dragon in the Den - in fact there are two in mine! - A brown one and a green one with extra burn.
Serious ginger fan and chartered accountant Warren Harries-Jones started brewing the beer in his garage some years ago. After many trials, testing and tastings the brew was ready for public opinion. The maiden batch popped out at 11%AV (alcohol by volume) and was quickly guzzled by willing guinea pigs. No one has dared to challenge the Dragon Master since.   Dragon Alcoholic Ginger Beer comes in a number of varieties: Dragon Original at 5% AV; Light at 4%; Double Dragon at 8% and Ginger Apple at 5%. The Light Dragon is brewed with stevia instead of sugar and has 33% less calories than the original.

My guests, who are neither beer drinkers nor regular consumers of alcoholic beverages, seemed really thrilled to feel the ginger buzz in their nose. It takes the breath away - literally. While the Double Dragon is punted as ‘having extra burn’,  I found the Original refreshing and vibrant served icy cold, straight from the freezer in a tall pilsner glass with a dash of tonic and twist of lemon.   Dragon Alcoholic Ginger Beer is sure to find a niche in the market that bandies craft and artisanal around like salt and pepper.                                                                                                                                                                                 Dragon is giving away a fully stocked Dragon Fiery Bar with 30l keg. See their facebook page for details.
Dragon Ginger Brew is available at trendy pubs, clubs and leading liquor stores for R421.05 for a case of 24 bottles

WARNING: Take care that the kids don’t grab an ice cold bottle of the brew for a lunch-box treat on their way to school, as mine did many years ago. On enquiring what happened to the can that I’d left in the fridge the previous day,(West Coast Cooler at around 6%AV)  I got an, ‘Oh, I had it during break.’   ‘And when did you write your test?’ I asked, horrified. ‘Immediately after break’ he answered nonchalantly. ‘And how was the test?’ ‘Easy-peasy….. Is there another can of that lekker juice for tomorrow?’

Alcohol is not for sale to persons under the age of 18 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Miles Mossop
Winemaker Miles Mossop, Viticulturist Aiden Morton and recently appointed General Manager Karl Lambour hosted an exclusive preview of Tokara’s new vintage releases at the iconic cellar at the end of August. Media personalities mixed and mingled on the veranda overlooking terraced vineyards while tweeting; instagramming and sipping on the 2016 Tokara Elgin Sauvignon Blanc. This delicious wine is bursting with aromas of lemon and fig with nuances of dried herbs. The mouth-feel is full with a lingering fresh and dry finish. The Highlands vineyard in Elgin is aptly named as the site is 415 metres above sea level with fresh breezes from the ocean just 7 km away providing cool summer temperatures which are ideal for slow ripening Sauvignon Blanc. It was a good match for Chef Richard Carstens’ starter of cured home smoked trout, sushi rice, trout crackling with roast bone vinaigrette and herb salsa.
Aiden in the vineyard
Karl in the cellar

Chef Richard Carstens
The afternoon was relaxed as waiters poured samplings of the 2013 Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Reserve Collection Shiraz. Both wines are stunning examples of the ethos and commitment to quality for which Tokara has become renowned.                                                                It was however the Tokara Director’s Reserve Red 2005 that really roused my senses.  Director’s Reserve showcases grapes from the best blocks and from the best parts of these blocks from premium vineyards on the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountains. The grapes are allowed to ferment naturally without addition of commercial yeasts allowing a slow fermentation resulting in full, rich complex wines. Only 20 000 bottles were produced. 15 cases of the remarkable wine were auctioned at the 42nd Nederburg Auction on the 16th September 2016 for the handsome price of R6000 per 6-bottle case.  Another Tokara star, the Tokara Siberia Chardonnay 2015, goes under the hammer at the 32nd Cape Winemaker’s Guild Auction on the 1st October at Spier Wine Estate.

Make a point of stopping atop the Helshoogte Pass and be tempted to visit the child friendly Tokara Deli where you can enjoy local and imported charcuterie; award winning cheeses; home-made chicken pies; freshly baked bread and so much more. Or browse the gallery with its unique ‘Wine Made Art’ pieces and interesting stonework sculptures or just visit the tasting room to savour their award-winning wines.

Tokara is situated at the top of the Helshoogte Pass en-route from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek.     Tel: +2721 8085900

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Haute Cabrière Releases 2016 Vintage of Pioneering Wines

Ingrid Graham with Takuan Von Arnim at Haute Cabrière - Media Lunch

Cellarmaster Takuan Von Arnim hosted an intimate media group at a tasting of the newest vintage from the Haute Cabrière cellar. It was a beautiful sunshiny day and a perfect setting for a light alfresco lunch. The stunning vistas of the Franschhoek Valley, South Africa’s gourmet capital, from the terrace enhanced the mood with good company and great wines.
The focus of attention was the release of the 2016 Chardonnay Pinot Noir and the 2016 Unwooded Pinot Noir. According to Vin Pro, the representative body of some 3500 wine producers and cellars, 2016 was a challenging vintage, characterised by low rainfall and abnormal heat resulting in lower yields.

 Notwithstanding, Takuan says, ‘I’m delighted with the quality of fruit we harvested. The great advantage is that both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are early ripeners, so we avoid the heat and stress to the vines that occurs later in the harvest. Our grapes are also strategically planted on the estate and the magic of blending allows us to work with the very best parcels of fruit.’

The Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2016 has what I call a blushing pearl appearance. Takuan says the colour comes from the Pinot Noir pigmentation during crushing. The two cultivars are vinified separately and then blended according to Takuan’s tested magical formula. The wine is elegant and palate-pleasing with nuances of tropical fruit in perfect balance. It was delicious with the servings of shrimp and grilled kingklip, and would complement fruit skewers, salads and chicken dishes too.

The Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir 2016 is a perfect partner with salads, pasta and roast lamb. The fresh ruby red colour is followed through by ripe berry aromas and clean concentrated essence of cherries. Takuan believes that the Unwooded Pinot Noir is a congenial introduction to red wines for those who have not yet found delight in the fermented juice of crimson grapes.
Personally I could happily enjoy both these wines entirely on their own, with some nibbles on the side and good friends to share. Wines made for South African geselligheid.

 In 1982 Achim Von Arnim purchased a portion of the farm Cabrière that was granted to French Huguenot Pierre Jourdan in 1694. Achim was one of the pioneers of the Methode Cap Classique style of sparkling wines and a master of the art of sabrage.
The soil composition around the mountain cellar is especially suited to the cultivation of Burgundian varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Takuan continues the commitment set by his father as current Cellarmaster and Production Director.

Find: Haute Cabrière, Lamprechts Road, Franschhoek
Call: 0218762630 
Opening times: Mon-Fri 9:00-17:00; Sat & Pub Hols 10:00-16:00; Sun 11:00-16:00

Monday, July 11, 2016


Image result for drunk superman
Pic from Phetchblog Powerhouse Animations

I am The Fly - just sitting on the wall, watching the array of superhero pretenders arriving for the annual Superhero Costume Ball. They’re all here. Batman, Iron Man, Superman, at least five different Spiderman wannabees, Captain America – and the girls-oh the girls! Phoenix, Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Angel Dust with the yellow eyes - too many heroines to mention. The barman, flashing a villainous Joker grin, is dishing out mugs of Kryptonic KonKoktion, offering a potion to match every lycra-clad hero and evil-eyed villain.

The party has just begun.

My multiple eyes see in all directions as the masquerade swings into top gear. Atom Girl sneaks a kiss from Lightening Lord, her arch enemy, while Elektra and Deadpool are boogieing to the sounds of Heroes for Hire. Whoa!! what is she doing? She’s taken off more than her turban and Deadpool’s struggling to get out of his shiny Lycra leotard. Wonder Woman shakes her head as she sips on her second Golden Lasso. The tubby superman with Da Vinci beard really is going to launch from the balcony.... Someone call 911!

What happens to the brain when mere mortals and superheroes consume alcohol?

The folk at tell us:

In the cerebral cortex, neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that transmit signals to our body that control thought, behaviour and emotions) are affected by alcohol. Excitatory transmitters such as glutamate normally increase brain activity and energy, however in the presence of alcohol; glutamate is suppressed resulting in a slowdown. Slow speech; unfocused vision and loss of perception result. Alcohol also increases the levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which further slows the senses.        With more in-take, the cerebellum which controls movement and balance is affected resulting in staggering and off-balance swagger.                         Alcohol affects the hypothalamus and pituitary functions which are vital to keep the internal balance of the body, brain function and hormone release.             By acting on the medulla, alcohol induces sleepiness. It can also slow breathing and lower body temperature, which can be life threatening.

Why does alcohol make us feel so good then?

That’s because alcohol releases dopamine into the brain’s ‘reward centre’, resulting in a feel good mood. Yet the more we drink to release dopamine, the more we alter other brain chemicals resulting in all the nasties mentioned before. 

So, is it necessary to be an ascetic wallflower at the next Superhero Ball? Not if you drink in moderation; space your drinks; drink lots of water in-between and keep boogieing to the beat.      And oh, don’t forget to call an Ubermobile. It won’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight! (Sorry, that’s the “Damsels in Distress” Costume Ball) .
Try these Super Hero Cocktails at your next party
Kryptonic Konkoktion
250ml Bacardi white rum
250ml Cruz vodka

2l Pineapple Juice
1 can of coconut cream

Method:Pour the juice and ice cubes into a large punch bowl. Add coconut cream and blend in. Stir in the rum and vodka. Serve in sling glasses garnished with a pineapple wedge and cherry.

Kryptonic Konkoktion

Picture courtesy of Wonder Woman Collection
Wonder Woman’s Golden Lasso
25ml Bacardi white rum,
12 ml Oude Meester brandy, 

12 ml triple sec
Method: Blend liquors in a shaker over ice, strain into cocktail glass which has been coated with golden sugar on the rim, and decorate with long lemon twist. 

Alas, Mzansi has her own Brave Heart - Eli King. EK is a dance teacher from Jozi who discovers a mysterious, mystical crystal that gives him super powers. Like all superheroes he embarks on an adventure to fight evil and save the world from devastation. To honour EK we’ve created the Ek Jongojito made from pure home-grown products.  Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, is the first single grain produced in SA and has recently been awarded the Whiskies of the World Trophy in London. Cape Fynbos Grappa from Wilderer Distillery is uniquely South African made from 32 herbs, including buchu, rooibos, honeybush, devils claw and wild dagga.

EK Jongojito                            
EK Jongojito

25ml Bain’s Whisky
25ml Cape Fynbos Grappa
2tspns caster sugar
Lime wedges,
Fresh mint leaves
Dash of soda water
Crushed and cubed ice

Method: Put lime wedges and sugar into a glass; muddle to release the juice. Bruise the mint leaves in your hand and rub around the rim of the glass before putting into the glass. Gently muddle the leaves into the lime. Half fill the glass with crushed ice and pour in the liquors. Stir the mix together until the sugar dissolves.Top up with crushed ice, a splash of the soda water and garnish with a sprig of mint.


• 50ml Wilderer Fynbos
• 3 lime wedges, 3 orange wedges
• Fresh Mint
• 25ml Monin Cinnamon Syrup
• Soda Water


Muddle fruit, mint and fynbos gentle and top up glass with half cubed ice & crushed ice. Churn with bar spoon, cap with crushed ice and a splash of soda.


• 50ml Wilderer Fynbos
• 3 lime wedges, 3 orange wedges
• Fresh Mint
• 25ml Monin Cinnamon Syrup
• Soda Water

Muddle fruit, mint and fynbos gentle and top up glass with half cubed ice & crushed ice. Churn with bar spoon, cap with crushed ice and a splash of soda.