South Africa may be 18 hours away by plane, but you’ll feel right at home drinking this country’s wines. The seventh-largest wine producer in the world has great picks that often overdeliver in their price point. Selection from France 44 Wines, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252, france44.com
Landskroon Chenin Blanc 2013 (Paarl, South Africa) $9.99
A crisp, dry white with pear fruit and bright lemon-lime acid. A change of routine from your New Zealand sauvignon blanc, try it with halibut or a lighter-styled chicken dish.
Middelvlei Estate Free-Run Pinotage 2010 (Stellenbosch, South Africa) $16.99
Pinotage (crossbred pinot noir and cinsault)
Unique to South Africa, this is one you either love or hate. It’s earthy with slightly sweet, jammy fruit, black pepper, and tart acid.
Jean Daneel Signature Red 2005 (Paarl, South Africa) $29.99
Cabernet, merlot, syrah
Complex, balanced, and beautiful, it’s full of flowers on the nose and dark berry fruit. It needs time to open up and should age well for four to six more years.
Bristle Wines Viognier 2011 (Stellenbosch, South Africa) $14.99
It has peach and honey on the nose and tongue, followed by a soft touch of oak on the finish. Give it a second to open up—my second taste was more complex and rich. Try it with scallops and orange.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at VintageU@msn.com.