by Paullette Gaudet
Pinotage may sound like a Pinot Noir drinking game involving dice, but it’s actually a little-known red wine native to South Africa. Developed in 1925 when scientist Abraham Perold crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsault (also called Hermitage) grapes, Pinotage more closely resembles Shiraz in both flavor and color than its distant relation, Pinot Noir.
Pinotage grapes are very dark (often described as “inky”) and high-tannin. These traits, combined with their trademark high crop yields, made the grape notoriously difficult for winemakers to properly manage, and gave Pinotage wines a reputation for unpredictable quality. In recent years, the concerted efforts of many producers to reduce crop yields and refine winemaking techniques have resulted in a more predictable, global-market-friendly flavor. Pinotage also lends itself well to blends, particularly with Shiraz, and for dinner it pairs exceptionally well with the bold taste of BBQ.