I remember the first time a friend of mine tried to convert me to red wine; I was concerned as to how I would enjoy something that offers so many choices. 

After trying a few varieties, I was able to discover the new flavours and how they blend together. That was all it took. I love sweet red wines and it turns out that’s the case for many red wine novices.

I asked wine merchant Roland Peens to share some of the red wines you need to try if you are a beginner and want to improve your palate.

Below are Roland Peens picks. 

AA Badenhorst Secateurs Red, approximately R95.

The number of new wines available to the South African consumer is at an all-time high. But generally it’s the small producers that make small batches of exciting, finer, less alcoholic wines. Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs is available everywhere and showcases new-wave South African wines with a blend of varieties that work well in the Cape. Few wines are better value, offer more character, more authenticity and more ‘South African-ness’. This is the original hipster wine.  

Rupert and Rothschild Classique 2015, approximately R180.

You need to know the popular wines to have perspective on the more niche wines. Only Chocolate Block can compete with the Classique in terms of sheer volume at a premium price point. Over 1 million bottles are produced and it’s mostly Merlot. This is an incredible feat for a grape variety that is difficult to master. The Classique is rather delicious and very well made, but don’t expect your wine-geek friends to get excited.

Reyneke Syrah, approximately R165.

Once you have tasted the commercially successful wines, look out for the highly-regarded niche wines. Reyneke is Biodynamic, a few steps beyond Organic, and the wines hold an incredible personality and texture. Look out for the savoury notes and dry tannins that may need some getting used to.

Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc, approximately R125.

Bruwer Raats is the king of Cabernet Franc, a variety that can be light in body and absolutely ‘smashable’. Red wines don’t need to be big, bold and sweet to be pleasurable. The Dolomite is superb value and incredibly detailed.  

Thorne and Daughters Copper Pot Pinot Noir, approximately R140.

Pinot Noir is the most popular grape variety in wine circles. It offers amazing complexity and flavour, yet holds incredible delicacy and wonderful freshness. The Copper Pot from new-wave winemaker John Seccombe is not only charactered and delicious, but doesn’t hurt the pocket like most Pinots do.