Exploring The Diverse Types of Red Wine in South Africa


South Africa is not only known for its beautiful landscapes, diverse cultures, and delicious wines, but also for its impressive wine industry, with its South African red wines gaining recognition and popularity among wine enthusiasts around the world.

But with so many different types of red wine available in South Africa, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. In this article, we’ll explore the diverse types of red wine in South Africa and help you discover one of the best red wine in South Africa. 

The History of Red Wine in South Africa

The history of winemaking in South Africa dates back to the 17th century, when the Dutch East India Company established a supply station in Cape Town. The first vineyards were planted in 1655, and in 1659 the first wine was produced, just four years later.

Today, South Africa is the ninth-largest wine producer in the world, with red wine accounting for approximately 45% of the country’s total wine production.

The Different Kinds of Red Wine in South Africa

South Africa is home to a wide variety of red wine grapes, each with its own unique characteristics and flavours, producing good red wine in South Africa. Here are some of the most popular red wine types (in alphabetical order) produced by various South African red wine brands:

Various Red Wines in Glasses

 Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Cabernet Franc

This variety is a relative of Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to exhibit softer, less sugary, and less alcoholic qualities in a nice red wine. Stellenbosch has the largest production area for this variety, followed by Paarl.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Cabernet Sauvignon

This variety is popular amongst types of red wine in South Africa and yields top-quality wines that mature into full-bodied, complex, and spicy wines. This variety is grown in Stellenbosch, Paarl, Swartland, as well as Robertson. 

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Cinsaut (Noir)

Formerly known as Hermitage, this versatile and robust variety can be blended with Cabernet to create affordable early-drinking wines or as quality wine for brandy distillation. The largest areas of Cinsaut Noir production are Paarl, Breedekloof and Swartland areas.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Grenache (Noir) 

This hardy grape is resistant to drought, wind, and sun, and it is typically blended with Shiraz, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In South Africa, Grenache Noir vineyards are spread across all wine-producing regions, with more than half of them located in Swartland and Paarl.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Merlot 

A variety that ripens early, it is traditionally used to impart softness and body to Cabernet Sauvignon. The planting of this good red wine variety is on the rise, particularly in the Stellenbosch and Paarl regions.

Merlot Grapes

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Mourvèdre 

Hailing from Spain, where it’s known as Monastrell, this variety lends its spicy notes to blends, particularly with Shiraz. Although planted across all production regions except the Northern Cape, over half of the total area under cultivation is found in Swartland and Paarl.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Muscadel 

Known for producing a widely enjoyed sweet red wine amongst types of red wine in South Africa, especially in the Little Karoo region of South Africa. This variety has very limited plantings in the country.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Petite Sirah (Durif) 

A cross between Peloursin and Syrah (Shiraz) from southern France, it yields densely fruited, tannic wines. The first commercial planting was established in 2004 in Paarl and most of this varietal is planted in the Breedekloof and Paarl areas.

Paarl Vineyards

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Petit Verdot 

An excellent variety, sparingly used in Bordeaux-style blends and can also be made into varietal wines. The variety is grown in all the wine production regions of the country, with Stellenbosch having the largest area under production, followed by Paarl and Robertson.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Pinotage 

It combines the refined attributes of Pinot Noir with the robustness of Cinsaut and is exclusive to South Africa. It produces complex and fruity wines that age well. The term ‘Cape blend’ often refers to a red blend where Pinotage constitutes 30 to 70 percent of the wine. Pinotage is most widely planted in the regions of Swartland/Darling, Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Wellington. Other regions with significant plantings of this good wine include Breedekloof, Worcester, Olifants River, and Robertson.

types of red wine in South Africa - Pinotage Sign

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Pinot Noir

These wines are typically lighter in colour amongst types of red wine in South Africa, with distinctive vegetal flavours and aromas. The regions best suited for this varietal in South Africa are Walker Bay, particularly the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, and Elgin, thanks to their favourable cooling ocean influences and altitude.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Ruby Cabernet 

Developed in 1936 by Dr. Harold Olmo from the University of California through a cross between Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon, this high-yielding variety thrives in warmer climates. This variety is capable of yielding wines with vibrant hues and a delightful cherry taste; however, it is predominantly used in blends for large-scale, commercial wine production.

Sommelier pouring red wine

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Shiraz 

This prestigious French-origin variety, also known as Syrah, has seen significant growth in local plantings under South African wine types. Produced in various styles locally, it creates wines that are a deep purple colour, with smoky and spicy notes that evolve in complexity as they mature. Its vineyards span across all South African wine-producing regions, each exhibiting distinct flavour profiles.

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Tinta Barocca

This Portuguese grape variety yields earthy, organic red wines and port-style wines and is excellent for blending as one of the types of red wine in South Africa. The largest plantations are found in the Swartland, Little Karoo, and Stellenbosch regions.

types of red wine in South Africa - Stellenbosch Vineyards with Mountain in the Background

Types of Red Wine in South Africa – Touriga Nacional 

As the finest variety for port and one of the oldest cultivars in Portugal’s Douro region, it produces varietal wines with a very dark colour and a potent ripe berry character, typically around 13% alcohol content. It’s grown in the Klein Karoo and Swartland areas of South Africa.

HER Wines Red Wines 

With so many different types of red wine in South Africa with so many different red wine names, it can be challenging to know where to start. Here are two of the top South African wines to try:

HER Wines Pinotage

The 2022 Pinotage from HER Wine Collection charms wine enthusiasts with its rich, ripe red berry flavours, amplified by aromatic spicy notes. Its medium-bodied structure is marked by soft, velvety tannins that amplify the richness of the succulent fruit tastes.

Types of red wine in South Africa - HER Pinotage

HER Wines Shiraz

The 2022 Shiraz from HER Wine Collection masterfully blends dark berry flavours with hints of vanilla and spice, creating a captivating wine. This medium-bodied red, which leaves a memorable mark on the taste buds, is considered one of South Africa’s premier red wines.

Types of red wine in South Africa - HER Shiraz

HER Wines Bursary

At the HER Wine Collection, our extraordinary all-women team deeply understands the hurdles one can face while striving for career success. We empathise with the challenges young individuals encounter as they carve their unique paths in life, which fuels our passion to lend a helping hand. This commitment is manifested through our initiative to allocate 2% of our profits towards a bursary fund. The aim of this fund is to cultivate the dreams of ambitious youths and empower them to make their aspirations a reality.

types of red wine in South Africa - Bursary Image

Our exclusive scholarship is solely accessible to candidates from families working in the vineyards that supply the grapes for the HER Wine Collection, including our two types of red wine in South Africa. The lucky recipients will not only receive financial support for their education but also benefit from priceless mentorship to help them steer through the intricacies of higher education and embark on a fulfilling career path.

Purchase HER Wines

Our distinguished good South African wine is readily available for purchase from our online store on our website, at your local Woolworths store or via Woolworths online, along with other retail outlets across the country. 

Contact HER Wines

Keep yourself in the loop with all the newest happenings and wine specials at the HER Wine Collection by following us on Instagram and Facebook. For additional information or questions about our two types of red wine in South Africa, feel free to write to us at  info@herwinecollection.co.za or reach out to us at 021 873 3170.