Wine is dauntingly unruly. So many places it comes from, so many grapes it’s made from, so many different people making wine as they interpret how it should be made. And then its taste changes every damn year.”

Terry Theise / Reading  Between the Wines.

My love affair with food and wine pairing began about 12 years ago, but I was quite conservative; staying within the limits of what I knew: the Distell stable of brands and, occasionally, venturing to newer wines that were making a noise in the media. About 4 years ago, I began buying publications like WINE Magazine and reading the wine writers on the internet and so became more adventurous in my wine purchasing. Two people I follow religiously are Michael Olivier and Cathy Marston.

Michael is a much-respected and loved personality, with a formidable wit. He recently appeared on morning TV’s show Espresso, to give a demonstration on preparing a cranberry dressing for Christmas meats. As he softened butter in the pan, the show’s presenter asked if margarine could be used instead. Without missing a beat, and with gentle kindness, Michael retorted “No, no, no marge. The only Marge we ever have is the one on the Simpsons.

I was thrilled to be greeted with a hug before he addressed us at the Food & Wine Blogger Indaba on Sunday morning.

Michael assured us that we should not be daunted by the ‘daunting unruliness’ of wine and that all rules can be broken. It is OK to drink white wine with red meat and to put ice in red wine. He did mete out a caution that we do ourselves gravely short if we eschew sweet wines, something I have only discovered very recently and which stood me in good stead: I was able to identify the gewürztraminer during our session of blind tasting.

My choice of afternoon break-away workshops were:

Social media & building your brand; Andy Fenner

Beer; Denis da Silva

Food & Wine Pairing, Champagne Talk & Sabrage technique; Cathy Marston and Harry Haddon

I will cover the beer sometime soon; it was fascinating and the presenter was passionate about his subject. Sabrage is another topic I’ll address on its own, being a bit of an expert on this technique of late.

Cathy Marston’s workshop was the absolute highlight of my day. I’ve admired her for so long and it was a pleasure to spend time with her. The wine sponsors had been generous and our tasting (with food provided by Nina Timm from My Easy Cooking.) was a riotous experience.

After a prizegiving ceremony (I won a fabulous book, about which I’ll post in the near future) we faced sunset on the decks drinking more wine and Cathy debunked more snobbish wine myths. We discovered that it’s no great sin to enjoy wine from a Collins glass instead of the correct wine glass when there is an emergency.

(Can’t remember who took this pic; Kathy, Tandy or Sue: thanks!)


Cheers, Michael and Cathy, it was a treat.


49 Comments Add yours

  1. Liane says:

    Sounds like you had an awesome time – that’s great to hear!

    1. theonlycin says:

      It was just too good, Lee 🙂

      1. Liane says:

        The worst part for me is always going home after having had such an awesome time! 😦

      2. theonlycin says:

        Yes, it’s horrid 😦

  2. They sound wonderful

    PS – you say so much by omission 😉

  3. SuziCate says:

    Looks like you’re having a great time…cheers!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m back in Joburg, suzicate, just capturing the memories of #fbi2011 🙂

  4. gospelwriter says:

    When there is an emergency, one does what one has to. 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Indeed, and one is pleasantly surprised that taste is not compromised 😉

  5. That sounds SOOOOO fantastic! Again my vicarious pleasure is enormous! You are so very talented in so many ways, and I think what draws people to you is your great wit, your down-to-earth and not in the least snobbish attitude is very appealing, and can even make wine and food neophytes like myself feel comfortable with you – as though I really could be a guest in your home!

    Tell me, how many people were attenders like yourself, and what were the requirements for attendance – did it cost, for instance (I assume it would come with a fairly high price tag)? Also, last but not least, what in the world does “Indaba” mean? My guess is that it means gathering, seminar, or convention; perhaps celebration. How close am I? 😀

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you, Paula, for saying such nice things.
      The conference was limited to 110 attendees and there was no criteria for attending, save the desire to do so.
      Cost of admission was R740 per person, but you will see in future posts that the cost of this was negated by the value of the items we received in our goodie bags. WE GOT LOOT!
      Indaba, in local dictionaries, is defined as:
      A council or meeting of indigenous peoples of southern Africa to discuss an important matter.

      1. South African, OK, but which language? Certainly doesn’t sound Afrikaans – so to which indigenous language does the word belong? What did the cost cover? Just the conference or was lodging included with that? If you got lots of good loot, then I’d say that sound quite reasonable to me – according to my currencies table!

      2. theonlycin says:

        The term comes from a Zulu language word, meaning “business” or “matter”.
        The cost covered the conference, breakfast and lunch. There was also amble food and drink during the workshops. I haven’t yet tried to calculate the value of all the products in the goodie bag, but I’d hazzard a guess that it more than doubled the R740 we paid to attend.

  6. Tandy says:

    I loved the wine pairing and have a new love of Guwurtztraminer 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m also very taken with it.

  7. slpmartin says:

    At university…I recall that even the old Mason jars were acceptable glasses for wine. 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ah Mason jars .. now there’s a memory 🙂

  8. Madmom says:

    Nooo, you have just scuppered our opportunity to tease Sue and Linda with the ice cubes they so love in their wine! 🙂
    Sounds like such a great adventure, I think I should learn to cook and join you lot next year.

  9. granny1947 says:

    Think I must start saving for next years bash!!!

  10. u r a woman who revels in connections. inspiring.

  11. bb(adair) says:

    I have always broken the wine ‘rules’ but I draw the line at drinking out of the incorrect glasses and heaven forbid*shudder* plastic ones! I even schlep my glasses to the bush!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Normally I would too and I agree about the plastic 😉

  12. Pseu says:

    Thank goodness for that.

  13. souldipper says:

    Talk about a time created just for you, Cin. Food, Wine, Friendship, Writers.
    There you are…in the company of a couple of your favs… methinks you followed your bliss.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Spot on, Amy, I followed my bliss 🙂

  14. nrhatch says:

    Liked the post . . . loved the pic. You’re such a mischievous elf. 😀

    1. theonlycin says:

      Moi? Mischievous? 😉

  15. In my student days, we used to drink wine (if it can be called that) from paper cups! 30c per cup – rotgut deluxe, I would think!
    It sounds like you had an amazing time – what pure delight to be at an event learning about something you’re so passionate about, and that you write so beautifully about. AND you were in Cape Town – does it get much better than that?
    Thanks for sharing, I look forward to hearing more.
    Sunshine xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ooh, I remember the rotgut *gril*

  16. libraryscene says:

    Gwerz, Rieislings ~ not terribly complex, but oh so drinkable on a warm evening as the sun sets.

  17. Oh Cindy, I am loving reading all about the Indaba and thrilled to see that there is more coming – yippee!
    I get a raised eyebrow here when dining with French people at my lack of culture by drinking white wine with red meat – oh well.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      Just tell them Michael Olivier said it’s allowed 🙂

  18. Corina says:

    Guwurtztraminer is yummy! And I’m not a big sweet wine fan, but Delheim’s Guwurtz changed my mind about that!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I haven’t tried the Delheim, but am quite smitten with the Paul Cluver.

  19. Oh absolutely Cindy, no great sin at all using a Collins glass…. afterall, an emergency is an emergency. Love this post, would have been amazing to be surrounded by all that wine knowledge. This get together in SA sounded amazing, would be fantastic to be there, looking forward to more posts about it all.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Many more to come, Chef 🙂

  20. The daunting unruliness of wine. Gracious. A man of words.

    1. theonlycin says:

      So it would seem 😉

  21. fbi2011 says:

    Another fabulous post. Thank you for sharing. I also loved the workshop with Cathy. She is just so so knowledgeable about her subject and presents so well. And Michael is such a great man. I learned a lot from him as well. He is as generous with his speaking as he is with his luv luv and hugs 🙂 Such a fab photo of you and Cathy xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      You’re such a star for getting us such wonderful speakers and for pulling this event together!

  22. Okay wine’s not my thing, but do love your haircut, Cindy.

  23. Lance P says:

    Beer pairing isn’t something you hear of everyday. That’s a novel dinner party idea!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes it is, rather 🙂

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