Pinotage is the signature red variety of South Africa; it was developed there in 1925 as a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The wines made from Pinotage are quite ripe, with flavors of wild cherry and blueberry and have a bit of a wild streak to them with aggressive tannins. Most are reasonable priced from $10-$15 and are thus meant for consumption within three to five years. Pair these wines with stews, duck, roast pork or tangy cheeses.

There are also a few producers of Pinotage in the US as well as New Zealand.

Though thought of as distinctly New World, South Africa's wine industry is actually over 300 years old. With recent governmental changes, South Africa has left its long period of international isolation. Wine drinkers in the US are beginning to see more and more of the fabled "Cape" wines on the domestic market. These wines actually share more in common with Old World styles than with their New World counterparts.

Produced in a cooler climate with a distinct maritime influence, South African wines are generally a couple of degrees lower in alcohol than those from Australia or California, and have higher levels of acidity with relatively firm structures. All in all, the national style shares much in common with that of France. Balance and moderation are the buzzwords, making these wines exceptionally friendly at the table. South African wines do have some unique signatures, however. Fans note a distinctive minerally flavor, present particularly in the reds, that we usually described as tar-like.

This nuance can often be found in pinotage, a wine unique to the area. A cross between pinot noir and cinsault (an obscure grape from the south of France) pinotage is a lighter- to mid-weight red with lots of character. It is one of the few wines in the world that, when fully ripe, smells like blueberries! Blueberries and tar or not, South Africa produces a range of distinctive wines to tempt the adventurous. (Wine/Grapes)