There are two things about Pinotage that many people must determine on their own: its taste and its ability to age. Fans of Pinotage describe it as tasting of loganberries, blackberries, earth, and banana; to them, it has a flavor that is fruity, distinctive, and refreshing. On the flip side, opponents of Pinotage state that it tastes like “rusty nails.” While the opposition does admit that they have tasted some very good Pinotage, they attribute its success to the skill of the winemaker, not the greatness of the grape.
In regards to aging, Pinotage is not typically a wine that is thought to age well. However, this is a bit of a conundrum: most red wines age as well as Dick Clark. The age question has also been addressed by wine drinkers: many connoisseurs have stated that Pinotages that have aged a few years exhibit stronger and more notable flavors. In general, certain Pinotages were made to age and can sit for up to eight years; others were made to be drunk within a year of bottling. When purchasing a Pinotage, a sommelier should be able to tell you which vintages you should keep in your cellar and which vintages you should open up and start drinking on your way to the cash register.
Pinotage, like all types of wine, isn’t for everybody. Some people love it, some people think it’s decent, and some people would rather (gasp!) drink no wine at all. But, the same can be said for just about anything consumable. When it comes down to it, Pinotage is worth a try, if nothing else, to see what the controversy is all about.