The production of Pinotage was initially marked by controversy: these grapes met wrath. While the controversy stopped just short of grapes protesting to chants of “Hell no, we wont’ grow,” it left many wine consumers refusing to take part in sampling. One reason for this was the erroneous belief that Pinotage was a hybrid, a wine made by breeding two grapes from two different species. In actuality, Pinotage is a viticulture cross, a wine made by breeding two grapes from within the same species. Both Pinot Noir and Cinsault are related to vitis viniferous, a European grapevine.
Pinotage, though it still has its fair share of opponents, has begun to gain ground over the years. In 1959, it became available commercially, but was generally only known inside of South Africa. Its popularity, while dismal in the first years of existence, began to grow when, in 1961, a Bellevue red wine made from Pinotage was named the champion at the Cape Wine Show.
The crown Pinotage wore proved to be revoked rather quickly; it was a short reign. Suddenly, Pinotage was again a faceless wine. However, another wine competition would soon give it a reputation. In 1991, a winemaker by the name of Beyers Truter entered a Pinotage in the International Wine and Spirit Competition. Upon sampling the Pinotage, the judges named him “Winemaker of the Year.” He was the first South African to ever be accorded this honor.
Pinotage started to grow on the rest of the world when the unjust system of apartheid fell; with its removal , international boycotts were also removed and Pinotage began to be sold and traded outside South African boundaries.
True fans of Pinotage attest that it can go well with any type of food. However, its flavor tends to really thrive when paired with certain entrees. A medium-bodied Pinotage, for example, goes considerably well with fresh fish, sushi, and thick soups. A heavy-bodied Pinotage goes well with red meat, venison, barbequed dishes, and oysters.