Exploring Dry Red Wine In South Africa


South Africa is known for its stunning picturesque landscapes, diverse and incredible wildlife, and rich vibrant history. But did you also know that it is home to some of the best dry red wines in the world? In this article, we will explore the world of dry red wine in South Africa, including its types, potential benefits, and the best ones to try.

What is Dry Red Wine?

Dry red wine is a type of red wine characterised by its low sugar content and unlike sweet wines, dry wines contain minimal to no sugar. Experts in the wine industry have a more precise definition of dry wine, considering those with no more than one gram of sugar per litre as truly dry. Wines containing sugar levels above one gram but below nine grams per litre are classified as “off-dry.” Those wines devoid of any sugar are described as “bone dry.”

Why is Dry Red Wine Dry? 

The process of making wine involves fermenting grape juice. This fermentation occurs when yeast breaks down the sugar in the juice, converting it into alcohol. Typically, a wine is allowed to ferment until it becomes “dry,” indicating that all the sugar has been transformed. The term “residual sugar” (RS) refers to any sugar remaining unconverted.

Lady holding HER Wine Pinotage

Is it a Dry Red Wine or Sweet Red Wine?

Most red wines fall into the dry category, but exceptions include dessert wines like Port, Vin Doux Naturel, or Ice Wine, which are explicitly sweet. Some affordably priced red blends, often with unique names and lacking a specific origin, may also possess a degree of sweetness intended to appeal to a broader audience.

What Are The Benefits of Dry Red Wine?

According to medical studies, the potential health advantages of red wine stem from its antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to combat inflammation and regulate lipids. Produced from crushed dark grapes, red wine is a significant source of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skins.

dry red wine - People drinking

Antioxidants are crucial for minimising oxidative stress in the body, a condition associated with various illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. 

Types of Dry Red Wine in South Africa

South Africa produces a wide variety of dry red wines, each with its unique characteristics and flavours. Let us have a look at some of the most popular varietals:

Cabernet Franc

Softer and less sugary than Cabernet Sauvignon, this grape is key in Bordeaux-style blends and varietal wines. Its cultivation is small but growing. ‘Cabernet’ typically refers to Cabernet Sauvignon, not Franc.

Cabernet Sauvignon

A leading variety in the Cape, celebrated for producing superior dry red wine that ages into spicy, rich, and complex flavours. Often blended with Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

dry red wine - cabernet sauvignon


Thrives in hot, dry conditions and originates from Spain, with limited cultivation in South Africa. Used in light dry wines or as a blend, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.

Gamay Noir

Known for light reds with little tannins in the France’s Beaujolais region. In South Africa it is produced similarly.

Grenache (Noir)

A vital Spanish variety (Garnacha), drought, wind, and sun-resistant. It is commonly blended with Shiraz, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Red wine being poured into glasses


Known for spicy notes, primarily grown in Cahors, France, and as Argentina’s flagship. It is grown very limitedly in South Africa and found in both varietal and blended wines.


An early ripener, used to soften Cabernet Sauvignon blends but increasingly celebrated as a varietal. 

Man squeezing red wine grapes


Known for robust, tannic wines with potential for ageing, it originates from Italy’s Piedmont and there are only minimal plantings in South Africa.


This uniquely South African dry red wine grape, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (Hermitage) created by Professor Abraham Perold in 1925, marries the esteemed qualities of its parents. It’s capable of yielding complex, fruity wines that age well yet are also enjoyable in their youth. 

dry red wine - HER Pinotage

Pinot Noir

Revered in Burgundy and challenging to cultivate elsewhere, this grape is now producing exceptional wines in South Africa’s cooler regions. These wines are generally lighter in colour with distinctive vegetal notes, and a significant amount is utilised in Cap Classique sparkling wines.


The primary black grape of Tuscany, demanding careful vineyard management, with modest plantings in South Africa.


Originating from France and widely produced as Syrah outside Australia, this noble grape is celebrated for its deep, purple, smoky, and spicy wines that gain complexity with age.

Man holding grapes


Known as Primitivo in Italy, this prominent Californian grape is grown on a small scale in South Africa, adding to the diversity of the country’s viticultural landscape.

Dry Red Wine Types

The most robust, savoury red wines are the least sweet and are characterised by a subdued fruitiness and pronounced tannins, lending a bitter note.

Sophisticated, savoury dry red wine presents a reduction in bitter tannins. While not particularly fruity, they lean towards more earthy, peppery, or vegetal tastes, offering little in terms of sweetness.

dry red wine - HER Shiraz being poured

Bold, fruity red wines, though virtually sugar-free, can exhibit a perceived sweetness due to their robust aromas of cherries, raspberries, plums, and beyond.

With these distinct, different flavour profiles, everyone can find a dry red wine that they enjoy.

South African Dry Red Wine to Try

Now that we’ve explored the types, benefits and flavour profiles of dry red wine in South Africa, let’s take a look at some of the best dry red wine from HER Wines to try:

Dry Red Wine: HER Wine Collection Shiraz 2022 

The Her Wines 2022 Shiraz is defined by a compelling combination of dark berry flavours intertwined with hints of vanilla and spice. It is medium-bodied and complex, engrossing the palate and leaving a memorable aftertaste. The Shiraz can be aged for 1–5 years from its year of vintage.

dry red wine - HER Shiraz

Dry Red Wine: HER Wine Collection Pinotage 2022

The HER Wines Pinotage 2022 captivates the senses with its rich, mature flavours of red berries complemented by aromatic, spicy notes and boasts a medium body and smooth, silky tannins. Our Pinotage has an ageing potential of 1–5 years from its vintage year.

The HER Wine Bursary Initiative 

The HER Bursary initiative stems from the HER Wine Collection, a pioneering venture spearheaded by women in the winemaking industry. Having triumphed over significant challenges in their professional journey, the team at HER Wine Collection understands first-hand the hurdles faced by aspiring individuals striving to carve their paths in life. Motivated by this awareness, we have committed 2% of our proceeds to establish a bursary aimed at empowering young, ambitious, and talented individuals to pursue their aspirations.

dry red wine - bursary label

Eligible candidates for this scholarship are descendants of families actively engaged in grape cultivation for the HER Wine Collection. Those selected will receive financial aid for their academic pursuits along with personalised mentorship to navigate the complexities of higher education and career advancement.

Buy Dry Red Wine from HER Wines

Should you be in search of quality dry red wine within South Africa, our wines are available for purchase online on our website and from Woolworths, as well as at several retail locations. Keep up with all the exciting developments at HER wines as well as our wine specials by following us on Instagram and Facebook. If you require further details about our dry red wines or have any other inquiries, feel free to contact us through email at info@herwinecollection.co.za or by calling us at 021 873 3170.