When discussing winemaking terms in South Africa, it is important to remember that the country has had two completely separate languages, England and Afrikaans, moving side-by-side for centuries. This has inevitably lead to some words or phrases which are common in one language crossing the border into the other. Therefore the phrase ‘Donner’, from ‘donder’, is used in South African English to mean thunder. It is not always easy to be clear about what South African wine-making terms actually are, because the traditions of wine making go back to the Old World, ,and essentially to France. These traditions are still carried on in the New World, including of course South Africa. Some of the terms used to refer to wines, or to varieties of grape vines, are also unique to South Africa. These have been included because they can be helpful to anyone looking for an explanation.
Wine Farm – Not a wine-growing location, but a winery, where grapes are processed and become wine.
Wine of Origin – This term is used to describe wine which is from a single wine-producing area. The wine can only be made from grapes which have been grown within a certain distance of the vineyard. Wine makers wanting to use this term can apply to be described as an Estate.
‘Corked’ – used to describe a bottle of wine which has gone off, caused by an infection in the bottle, and precipitated by being exposed to light.
2,4,6-Trichloroanisol – The infection in a bottle of wine which results in it tasting or smelling ‘corked’.
Patteland – the Farmland. This describes an agricultural site, including the Cape winelands.
Oxidized – When the wine in a bottle has been exposed to air, it changes taste, texture and aromas. Before pouring a wine, connoisseurs will often oxidize the wine in decanters.
Cultivar – Used to describe the varieties of vines, Cultivar is commonly used in discussing wine.
The term Dop is used to refer to an alcoholic drink, and is similar to the British English word ‘drop’ for the same liquids.
Desiccation – This means to put a branch of grapes out to dry in the sun. South Africans often use the term Raisining to describe the same process.
Keg – sometimes still used to describe the Barrel or Cask in which wine is matured.
Bokswyn – The general term for a boxed wine, although Tapvat is commonly used by those producing good quality wines.
Grootmaat – bulk wines. The term Stortmaat is also used.
Hanepoot – made from muscats, this wine is similar to Muscadel.
Mampoer – Very strong brandy made using peach or fruit, rather like Moonshine, can also be used to refer to a very alcoholic wine, when tasted.
Papsak – Cheap wine, from a very value-for-money box-wine that is soiled without the box.
Varietal – a wine made out of one variety of grape, sometimes also called Single-Varietal
Witblitz – Like Mampoer, a word for home-made alcohol which is very potent.
And of course, Babbelas – a hangover.