Durban - Is it permissible for fine wines to be accompanied by cigars? That was a question posed in the earlier days of The Mercury Wine Week by wine writer Fiona McDonald, who wrote a weekly wine column for the newspaper.

“It was quite a refreshing change to attend The Mercury Wine Week simply as a member of the public this week.

“And I thoroughly enjoyed browsing around, discovering what was on offer.

“Some ‘finds’ were the Brampton cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend, Hoopenberg cabernet sauvignon and a Woolworths merlot made by Jacques Borman of La Motte. I was thoroughly enjoying the nose on the Zonnebloem shiraz (Fine Art Series) until a choking cloud of cigar smoke obliterated everything. There was quite a lot of murmuring about the location - or the mere presence - of a cigar stand at a Wine Week.

“L’Avenir have a new product, Rose Maison, which should be a real hit in the province. It’s an easy-drinking semi-sweet wine which would be delicious around the pool on a hot summer’s day.

“On the white side there were some delicious sauvignon blancs - notably from Haute Provence, Southern Right and Brampton. Sydney Buthelezi and the team from Pick * Pay had an impressive range of own label wines on offer.Their chardonnay was delicious. Nicely wooded with touches of vanilla, I picked up an almost banana character underlying the wine.

“Tonight’s the last night and I will be back, happily tasting my way through those I missed on my first pass.

“On Wednesday Diners Club made their annual Winelist Awards and KwaZulu-Natal received a platinum award for the first time. A jubilant Yannas Anagnostikas accepted it on behalf of the Hilton Hotel.

“Christina Martin’s, Granny Mouse and the Kairos Edward Hotel received well-deserved merit awards.”

No more cigar smoke then. Today it’s not an issue, as smoking in public places is verboten (banned) by law.

* An item from the files captures what the event is all about: “The annual Mercury Wine Week is for everybody. Whether you are a quiet tippler of cheap plonk, a garrulous, overbearing and pretentious know-it-all ‘expert’ or the genuine knowledgeable aficionado who revels in the bouquet of a top-class cabernet.”

This year , the Mercury Wine Week is at Sibaya Sun Park, from August 29 to 31.

The Mercury