Pinotage Food Pairing

grilled lamb chops

Updated July 18th 2023

What food goes well with Pinotage? The simple answer is: meat! This South African grape pairs wonderfully with BBQ and meats like lamb, game and pork chops. It is also a surprisingly good pairing with curry. In this wine pairing guide, you will learn more about Pinotage and its perfect food pairings.

There is no secret that Pinotage is an excellent food wine, especially if you are having grilled meat. It can also be paired with a wide range of dishes, including cheese and some vegetarian dishes. Pinotage is the signature red grape in South Africa, but consumers all over the world like to enjoy this fruity and rustic grape variety. Keep reading to find everything you need to know about Pinotage food and wine pairing.

About Pinotage Wine

You might have heard of the Pinotage grape, but what kind of wine does it give and where is it grown? To better understand Pinotage, we have to travel to South Africa. 

bottle of pinotage wine

Almost all Pinotage is grown in South Africa except for very small percentages which are grown in Brazil and New Zealand. It is in fact a quite rare grape variety, as it accounts for less than 10% of South Africa’s grapes. It is, however, the most famous red grape in South Africa.

Pinotage is a crossing between the grapes Pinot Noir and Cinsault (also known Hermitage). The experiment was conducted in 1925 in order to create a grape variety which was more heat-resistant than Pinot Noir.

The result is a full-bodied red wine, much richer than either parent grape, with high alcohol and a lovely combination of both rustic and fruity flavors. The characteristic notes of dark plums are combined with smoke and chocolate. Pinotage usually gives dry, tannic wines with moderate acidity.

Pinotage food pairing

Pinotage is a great wine to many different dishes, especially grilled meats or other heavy foods. South Africans love their braai (BBQ) and a Pinotage is a safe choice to serve with the grilled dishes. The full-bodied wine with rustic, yet fruity flavours pairs wonderfully with almost all types of meat. Pinotage also pairs well with rich dishes with a hint of spice, such as curry, and several cheeses.

When pairing Pinotage with food, it is important to take into consideration the following characteristics of the grape:

Pinotage is best served at 17-19°C (63-66°F), which is similar to room temperature. If you want to know about the best serving temperature for wine, you can read about it here.

Pinotage with meat

Pinotage will pair well with almost anything off the grill. Lamb, pork chops, steak, ribs, goat, burgers, venison… Even slightly sweet and spicy marinated meat will match this tannic, rustic and fruity wine from South Africa. Pinotage is a great paring with BBQ food, including typical BBQ sauce.

grilled lamb chops medium rare

The protein and fat in the meat balance the high tannins and alcohol in Pinotage. The grilled flavours match the smoke aromas in the wine. That is why Pinotage and meat is a match made in heaven. Try Pinotage with lamb or steak and you will not be disappointed.

The rustic, yet berry profile of Pinotage makes it an excellent pairing also for game meat, like deer or rabbit. Pinotage with game meat is a must try!

Tips! Avoid delicate and light foods because the full-bodied Pinotage will overwhelm it.

Pinotage with Cheese

What cheese goes best with Pinotage? Cheeses with strong flavors!

piece of parmesan cheese

Good cheese pairings for this South African wine includes:

Tips! Avoid delicate and/or salty cheeses like mozzarella or feta because Pinotage will overwhelm their flavors. If you want to know more about different types of cheeses and their perfect wine pairings, you can read our wine and cheese guide.

Pinotage with snacks

If you want to eat snacks with your bottle of Pinotage, make sure to choose something that can stand up to the bold wine. Charcuterie, patés and hard cheeses are all good matches to Pinotage.

Tips! If you want to learn more about how to pick the best wine for your snacks, you can read our wine and snacks guide.

Pinotage with vegetarian food

Pinotage also works with rich vegetarian dishes, especially grilled aubergines, mushrooms, peppers and beets. The char and smokiness from the grilled vegetables bring out the flavors in Pinotage. 

mushrooms and vegetables on the grill

Tips! To learn more about the best wine for vegetarian dishes, we recommend our wine guide for vegetarian food.

Pinotage with curry 

Pinotage is not all about meat. In fact, it is surprisingly good with curry. The wine can take a fair amount of spice and pairs well with rich curries. Pair pinotage with Indian curries rather than Thai curries, as the wine might overwhelm delicate, light flavours.

Indian curry served with nuts

Tips! Serve the Pinotage slightly cooler than room temperature when serving it with lightly spicy foods.

Pinotage with pizza

A glass of Pinotage together with pepperoni pizza (or any other meaty pizza) will taste great. The rustic aromas in the wine pair well with the aromas from the pizza oven.

pepperoni pizza slice

Pinotage with desserts

Most Pinotage wines are not a good match with desserts, but the characteristic notes of chocolate in the wine can make it a good pairing with rich, but not too sweet chocolate desserts.

Enjoy your wine and food!

Latest guides