Knowledge Base

South African Wine – Definitely Horse Free

Daan Coetzee of Cape Wine Cellars explains the rigorous system of wine labelling that gives a garutnee to consumers that, when it comes to South African wines, each bottle contains what it says on the label.

We have all been bemused by the horse meat scandal, and it does not seem it is heading for a happy conclusion soon. The latest is that tests are conducted on stock cubes and steak, and last week the newspapers trumpeted that burgers supplied to fast food outlets have also been tested positive for horse meat DNA. Everybody seems to have an opinion on it, but fortunately it is not a health scare, but at worst a case of mislabelling.  

Anyhow,  we can all rest assured that when you by a bottle of South African wine which carries the bus ticket or seal on the neck of the bottle, the content is exactly what it says on the label.  The seal comes about through the stringent control system the South African wine industry has developed over the years. The Wine of Origin wine certification system which is administered by the Wine and Spirit Board follows the wine form vineyard to bottle.  Having been on the production end of the system I know how various records are kept of grape origin per vineyard, yields and tanks with in a cellar. Likewise when a cellar intends to make a blend of, let us say 55% Cabernet and 45% Merlot,   the blend is registered with SAWIS who record the information.
The end result is that when a wine is bottled all the information on the bottle can be verified through the numbers on the seal. I have next to me a bottle of Sixpence Cabernet sauvignon / Merlot 2010 on my desk.  The number on the seal is 5970 990404 and I then go to the Sustainable Wine South Africa  website, and key in this information.  The system then confirms the information on the label – the region, Breedekloof, the blend of Cabernet and Merlot and the vintage.  
So with this system of record keeping in place – there is no room for adding horse to South African wine!

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