What to drink in July?

Well Wine-ter has definitely hit South Africa and with the first snows of the year settling on higher grounds it is time to lit the fires and start to cosy up. We always talk about food and wine pairings but at this time of year there is a new pairing on the block. A glass of De Grendel Merlot next to a roaring fire.

There is something intoxicating and comforting about the smell of the smoke, with tones of aniseed, liquorice and cedar, the crackle and pop of the flames and also that distinct orange glow from the fire reflecting on your glass of merlot. These distinct fireside tones will be picked up softly on the palate while sipping on your De Grendel Merlot.

It is the time of year to get out your blankets, turn on the under floor heating and dig out your favourite pair of winter slippers. After a long and cold day at work there is nothing more relaxing than getting into your slippers and watching a movie or reading a book by the fire. That reassuring velvety softness that you feel when putting on your slippers is the same velvety feel you get in your mouth from the well-rounded tannins and the soft background of soft French oak. The extra warmth from the slightly higher alcohol that you are used to from the lighter summer wines radiates in you and enhances the feeling of being warm and cosy.

We are starting now to produce more hearty meals with roasts and stew the order of the day. The enticing smell of these slowly cooking in your kitchen will enliven the characteristics of the merlot and as such will be the perfect food partner for De Grendel Merlot. We have included a recipe for a coq au vin which we feel is the perfect food partner.

COQ AU VIN Serves 4

• 1 bottle De Grendel Merlot
• 1 tbsp Blackcurrent Jelly
• 1 Onion chopped
• 1 stick celery chopped
• 1 Large Carrot chopped
• 4 Cloves of Garlic
• 5 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves

• 4 large chicken joints
• 100g Smoked streaky bacon
• 1 tbsp Plain flour
• 25g butter
• About 20 button onions, peeled
• About 20 button mushrooms
• 3 carrots thickly sliced
• A good handful of chopped fresh parsley


1. Place all the dry marinade ingredients into a casserole dish and sautee until soft add the wine and bring to the boil. Allow the volume of liquid to reduce by one-third and strain into a clean, non-reactive bowl and set aside to cool. Place the chicken pieces into the marinade, cover and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 5-6 hours or, preferably, overnight.
2. Warm olive oil in the casserole dish and gently fry the pancetta until golden-brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
3. Remove the chicken joints from the marinade, setting the liquid aside. Season the chicken joints with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dredge the joints in the flour, and then fry until golden-brown in a little olive oil. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
4. Add the butter to the dish and place the onions, mushrooms and carrots into the casserole and fry gently for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove any excess fat with a spoon and return the chicken and bacon to the pot, turn up the heat and pour over the cognac. Set alight, allow the flames to die down and then add the reserved, reduced wine. Gently simmer for one hour. (Alternatively, cook the casserole in an oven preheated to 170C)

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