‘We are young, our wine experiences should be fun.’
When I found out 26 year old Tshepang Molisana was the recipient of the 2016 Veritas Young Wine Writer award, my interest was immediately piqued, I had to meet her. My idea of a wine writer is often someone much older (and perhaps a touch stuffy), not quite the effortlessly stylish young woman who breezed into the coffee shop where we met for this interview, wearing a light blue cape with a bright pink lining.
A former UCT property studies student, Tshepang says that she was born to be a writer, her big sister taught her how to read and at a young age and she would rummage through her father’s book collection reading anything she could get her hands on. Given the shaky economy and the scarcity of writing jobs her parents wanted more for their daughter but she stuck to her guns. ‘Even if I’m stuck in a little apartment with just a typewriter – I’ll be happy’ she adds.
‘It was an absolute disaster! There was a storm raging and my laptop was broken so I had to use the home computer and of course the Wi-Fi wasn’t working and I had only about 2 hours left to submit my entry’ she tells me when I ask her about her submission for the Veritas awards. ‘I eventually sent it and a month went by with no response. Then one day I got invited to the cocktail party where they would be announcing the winner. I thought: why not go, maybe it will lift my spirit. When I arrived I saw about seven guests and it became clear that this wasn’t a party. I saw the chairman of the South African National Wine Show as well as six really amazing winemakers. Later when they announced the winner and called my name, I could not believe it!’ she adds.
— Veritas Awards (@veritasawards) December 8, 2016
Tshepang’s father was a salesman for SA brewery and when she and her sisters were younger they would carry crates of liquor over busy times like Christmas and New Year at her father’s bottle store and it got them curious, ‘what is brandy? Whiskey? Wine?’ When her mother took over the business she would come to Cape Town for business trips and Tshepang was inspired to do the same one day.
Her winning blog post was titled “Could Social Media Replace Traditional Wine Guides?” and it was inspired by the way social media is influences our lives. Tshepang says that ‘we live in an age of 140 characters and anybody can take a picture and post it and say “I like this” and that’s okay’. Unfortunately people just don’t buy the traditional wine guides anymore and social media makes it easy to tell everybody about the best wine of the moment.
She has major respect for the wine guides out there but adds, ‘we are young, our wine experiences should be fun – make a day of it. Before it was this very stuffy world only for the very wealthy or for those who travelled, for those who said things like “I go to Argentina for the mulled wine” or “Champagne for champagne”‘.
She continues: ‘I went to Robertson one day and this wine maker was taking us on a tour, he talked us through the process of wine making and it was so easy to tweet and keep the hashtag moving. What’s cool about social media is that you don’t even have to be at the Robertson tasting to know that this person has a new wine out. The last wine we saw was one he had made especially for this wife and he shared this really sweet story about her and the retweets and likes were insane! This shows the power of social media.’
We end our conversation by reflecting on 2016 and Tshepang admits that she has had a tough year but winning the award has given her perspective. We chat about our Christmas plans and I tell her about my traditional plans of a honey roasted gammon for Christmas lunch and I ask her what would be the best wine pairing? She tells me ‘try a nice rosé ‘– which I definitely did!
Tshepang’s Top 3 wines of the moment:
- Magna Carta, pinot noir made in 2014 and created by Mphumeleli Ndlangisa. ‘It’s lovely and light with beautiful strawberry notes’.
- Hamilton and Russell chardonnay, ‘it’s buttery, smooth and aged well’.
- JC Le Roux Scintilla 2008, ‘it’s celebratory, very south African and has apple on the nose and its really crisp and dry’.
An earlier version of this article stated Tshepang was a literature student, this was an error that has now been rectified.