‘An excellent wine list helps make for a great restaurant'       

The SAWi World of Fine South African Wines has embarked on an initiative to give proper attention to restaurant wine-lists. With that in mind, it just launched a reward for restaurant wine lists and is now accepting entries. This follows on the heels of the announcement of the SAWi ‘Grand Wines Collection’ (GWC) and ‘The Fine Wine Guide’, a cultivar ranking list of the best South African wines.

In the context of fine wine offerings, be it from behind the tasting counter of a great winery or from a list at a top restaurant,  their shouldn’t be something like a ‘just-ok’ wine list or one that everyone today has become used too. The question is to know ‘what style’ of wine suits your palate. In other words, what makes helping you to make your choice of wine apart from only the name of the varietal? 

Are you one that prefers wines that are fresh and crisp (light to medium whites), stand up whites (medium to big), flex (smooth & elegant) or brawny reds (big and bold or rich broad and toasty)? Learning to know your own preferences will make you find personal treasures. This will make your choice of fine wine much more exciting and most of all adventurous in exploring and finding something new. It is also for people who are less open to trying wines that they're not used to.

The foundation of a wine list lies along the lines of a ‘vision’: its versatility, imaginative presentation, stylistic characteristics, innovative offerings, originality in uniqueness and navigative easiness. Therefore, the idea behind the awards is to define a new footprint for restaurant wine list standards. Otherwise, the industry will stay static in terms of wine list presentations with patrons continuing to feel at lost to know what wine to choose. In fact, while the emphasis at top restaurants is normally placed on culinary experience, the state of accompanied wine lists is often than not a shortcoming.

As it is, current wine list awards all over the world use judging criteria similar in subjectivity.  Too many wine list awards focus on aspects like ‘depth, interest, quality, volume, clarity and accuracy’. SAWi criteria on the other hand aim to make wine lists experiences for restaurant customers new and fresh. SAWi accreditation would carry a badge of recognition for such fine wine list presentations.

Furthermore, top establishments deserve the global uniqueness, credibility and publicity that this award will bring. Therefore, SAWi is eager to see high-end tourist establishments and restaurants develop a program to not only build out and host representative wines from the GWC but also embark on a course that make these establishments distinctive in terms of wine offerings.

A great restaurant is one that, whatever its concept, conveys its sensibility not only through food but wine too. The wine part in particular must tell a story. As a result, a person, who takes particular pleasure in fine food and wine, should understand and not struggle with wine list presentations that accompany such food, especially the more discerned wine lover.

While wine lists should have general basic requirements to comply with such as overall presentation and appearance, indicating wine vintages and appellations for all selections, together with correct producer names and spellings, SAWi also proposes a specific layout too. After meeting such basic requirements, a detailed set of criteria will then be applied.

As such, the range of this award will be widened to ensure that many more expressions and variations on the wine list can be rewarded. Entrants will be judged in terms of National, Provincial and Regional (Country) lists. :

Best overall Category lists (with runners up) in terms of:                

Hotel Lists                   

City Lists                     

Country Lists               

Winery Restaurant Lists                       


Best by the glass lists; and                  

Best wine bar lists,

while also focusing on distinct weight-divisions (short, medium and long).    

The SAWi World of Fine Wine team will accept entries until September 15, 2018, when the panel begins the rigorous judging process in accordance to protocol. Final results will be revealed on the SAWi website and in the media.

Apart from SAWi accreditation and trophy honors, entrants are at liberty to ask for free advice and assistance on how to upgrade their wine lists to a new standard while enjoying extensive further benefits from the value proposition having been a participant such as listing in ‘The Fine Wine Guide’. 

Details and entry forms are obtainable on email at info@sawineindex.com / direct enquiries at 0825777037.

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