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South African foods & their wine pairings – infographic

South Africa Dishes & Wine Pairings. Bottle of wine with wine glasses on festive South African table

South African foods are the best and when you pair it up with the perfect chardonnay or merlot it becomes even more delicious. We have researched and tasted matches made in foodie heaven and put it into a nice, printable guide for you to use whenever you are dining with friends.

Wine tastes obviously vary from person to person and therefore we have included more than one wine in each case and also red and white varieties for most dishes.

Remember in wine there are roughly 200 different aromatic compounds in varying concentrations that were created during fermentation. So not only is the brain struggling to pull apart all these different smells, but it has the added burden of applying different visual, taste and tactile sensations to aromas it recognises as something else. Combine this with each taster’s individual sensitivity to specific aroma, taste and tactile stimuli and it is easy to see why tasting wine causes so much difficulty (source).

Therefore we recommend you try a new one every time until you find your favourite pairing!

View and download the infographic here or scroll to the bottom to view on this page.


Traditional dishes with wine pairings



Biltong, an age old tradition to preserve meat by the indigenous tribes of South Africa by means of dry curing, are usually made from beef or game thinly sliced and seasoned to air-dry naturally.

Wines best suited are reds like Pinot Noir, Syrah and Shiraz. Whites that go well with biltong are Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs.


Cape Malay Curry

Cape Malay Curry dates back to the 17th century that were made by the Indonesian, Indian and Malaysian slaves brought to the Cape by the Dutch and French. Aromatic spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, chilly and saffron combined with meats in stew form are still popular today.

Reds that go well with Cape Malay Curry are Merlot and Shiraz and white wines that will add character are fruity Rosé, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.


Umngqusho (Samp & Beans)

Umngqusho is made from white maize and sugar beans, a staple food for the Xhosa people. This dish has several variants – made with stamp mielies, with sugar beans, butter, onions, potatoes, chillies and lemons and then made to simmer.

Samp and beans are best paired with white wines such as Riesling and Pinot Gris and reds such as Pinotage and Merlot.


Chakalaka & Pap

Chakalaka and pap are mainstays on every South African dinner table. Chakalaka is a (mostly spicy) vegetable dish made of onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beans and spices, and is often served cold. Pap, meaning ‘porridge’, is a starchy dish made from white corn maize that’s consistency varies from crumbly (krummelpap) to a stiff texture (stywe pap).

Chakalaka and pap are often served together, along with braaied (bbq) meat, breads and salads.

This dish goes well with whites like Viognier and fruity Rosé and an array of reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot.



Bobotie is the national dish of the South Africa and cooked in many homes and restaurants. The dish consists of minced meat simmered with spices, usually curry powder, herbs and dried fruit, then topped with a mixture of egg and milk and baked until set.

Goes well with reds such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz, but also pairs well with whites like Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. We recommend to try the Chenin Blanc first as this will pair well with the fruitiness of the dish.


Mogodu with Ting (Tripe)

Ah, love or hate it, Tripe is a mainstay tradition in South Africa. Chef, blogger and entrepreneur Lesego Semenya says mogodu with ting is the one iconic dish that he will always look back on and cherish. “Mogodu is tripe, slow cooked for hours until soft; ting is a stiff porridge made from fermented mabele/sorghum. Mabele is also very versatile and can be played around with like quinoa and arborio rice.”

Pairs well with with white wines such as Riesling and Pinot Gris and reds like Pinotage and Merlot.


Waterblommetjie Bredie

Commonly made with lamb and waterblommetjies (an edible flower found in South African dams and marshes) or beef and tomato, bredie is a slow-cooked comforting stew that will warm both your tummy and your soul.

We enjoy it with a Zinfandel, but it also pairs well with red wines such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz and whites like Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.


Mussels & Prawns

When visiting Southern Africa a must-have dish are freshly caught mussels and prawns in a pot on the beach. The smell of ocean combined with the scent of fire and fresh seafood is raw and wild invigorating body and soul.

Seafood and white wine always pairs well, this dish specifically with a Chenin Blanc, Rosé, Chardonnay or Sémillon.


Malva Pudding

Malva pudding is a sweet and sticky baked sponge pudding made with apricot jam and served smothered in a hot cream sauce. Hmmmmm, yum! This is South Africa’s answer to the British sticky toffee pudding, served in many restaurants but mainly baked at home for Sunday lunch.

Goes well with a Merlot, Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon.



Similar to the British custard tart, melktert consists of a pastry case filled with milk, eggs and sugar, which is usually thickened with flour. The finished tart is traditionally dusted with cinnamon. A real South African comfort food, it is served as a dessert in most restaurants, and also available in many bakeries.

Muscat, Sweet Riesling and Zinfandel compliments this desert very well.



Infographic for South African Food and Wine pairings



We are not affiliated to the products or services mentioned in this article, in any way. It is mentioned as a result of our own experiences and research on public domains.

We endeavour to check all information for accuracy upon writing the article. If this information is outdated or wrong, please let us know and we will gladly amend it where need be. 



For more things to do, see and experience in Southern Africa why not go to the following pages to get inspired:

Events, Festivals & Shows

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Elize Rowe

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