Figures show a fifth of men and one in ten women drink nearly every day, with the middle-aged and middle-class most likely to fall into this category.

Cape Town – Let’s all raise a glass to 2015, a breakthrough year for South African wines around the world.

If you are picturing millions of customers in the new world quaffing litres of the cheap and cheerful stuff think again. Not only is South Africa taking an increasing slice of expanding markets but the country is securing a well-earned place at all the top tables and alongside the finest of old world vineyards.

South African vineyards have had their fans since Napoleonic times, including Napoleon himself, who is said to have been a great fan of Groot Constantia in particular, but recently their acclaim is growing and widening as the country gains recognition as a producer of very fine and diverse wines.

Wines of South Africa’s communications manager Andre Morgenthalsaid “In general, we are starting to see real growth in value in certain markets, rather than just volume.”

He said SA was starting to become known for the quality of wines and diversity of styles, and “we are still punching above our weight at the price point, and I am not referring to the falling value of the rand”.

America is one large and desirable market where SA wines had a breakthrough year. Morgenthal said that both the trade and sommeliers in the US were showing a keen interest, and South African wines were starting to play in the US$15-20 (about R160 to R220) bracket.

On the volume side of the equation, I would be amiss if I failed to mention Asia’s growing appetite for South African wines, from the entry level table wines to the finest vintages. It is hard to avoid sounding like you have had a few too many glasses when you start talking about the numbers: 11,844,889 litres were imported into China in the year to October, a 93.8 percent increase on the year before; 72 percent growth (to 794,146 litres) in packaged South African wine imports into Korea, to give just two examples.

Whichever way you look at it – volume, value, quality – South African wines are earning a place on every table. Cheers!

African News Agency