It’s not difficult to understand the problem the average wine drinker faces in trying to discern value when it comes to wine buying. There are no obvious clues or guidelines: buying wine is not like buying eggs (free range, jumbo or packed in dozens) or bacon (streaky, back, priced per kilo).

There are delicious and inexpensive wines selling for R50 or so per bottle with perfect varietal characteristics (Porcupine Ridge cabernet or shiraz), so fruit definition alone is not a sufficient criterion. Even the use of barrels — once a clear indication of a premium offering (or at least the intention of conveying that impression) — no longer counts for much: oak notes can be cheaply acquired using wood chips, staves or even tannin additives. (Anyway, nowadays geeky consumers want to drink fruit, not the forests of France.)

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