Steve Steinfeld: "The overall quality of wines on offer in Johannesburg has been raised across the bar"

Steve Steinfeld.
Andreas Grube
Published 10-September-2022
Interview / South Africa

Star Wine List adds another city to the guide to South Africa's best wine places: Johannesburg. Writer and wine consultant Steve Steinfeld, who was born and bred in the city, is our new ambassador and the man behind the selection.

Editor's note: Read about our upcoming wine list awards in South Africa - and enter here if you are a restaurant or wine bar!

"As a proponent for Johannesburg's food and wine scene, I'm very much looking forward to assisting in showcasing it to the rest of the world. It's undoubtedly one of the most important markets for South African wine, and I think that's often overlooked," he says about his new ambassador role.

Steve Steinfeld started blogging about food and wine in 2014, and since then, he's gone on to write about and review food and wine for several publications. Today he runs The Joburg Foodie social media blog and contributes food and wine content for the luxury magazine and online publication BusinessDay Wanted.

"I also consult a number of restaurants across the country on their pr, media and reputation management."

When it comes to the wine scene in Johannesburg, Steve says that it has grown leaps and bounds in the last ten years and that there has been a noticeable rise in interest and knowledge in wine – and that the restaurant and bar scene has grown to meet this demand.

"While still largely centred amongst the most premium sector of the restaurant scene, the overall quality of wines on offer in Johannesburg has been raised across the bar. While most certainly still an emerging wine market, the restaurant and wine bar offering is doing a fantastic job when it comes to showcasing South African wine," he says.

I think Swartland is just producing the most exceptional and interesting wines at the moment

Any specific trends when it comes to wine venues in Johannesburg right now?
"The market is still very much focused on South African wines. Within that, there's a growing interest in wines made by low intervention winemaking and those from boutique wineries. It's nice to see these smaller winemakers getting spaces on lists."

Anything you would like to see more of?
"I'd like to see more focus on the different winemaking regions in the Cape. I think there's definitely space to grow the knowledge of SA's wine regions and the wines they do well amongst patrons, and the wine list is the best place to start this."

Anything you would like to see less of?
"I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to stemware. I'd like to see less cheap and chunky wine glasses. Also, ridiculous markups which inhibit people from trying different, better and more exciting wines."

What makes a great wine list, in your opinion?
"A great wine list should have vision and balance. Vision in that it should be carefully considered and aligned to the restaurant and the offering. Balance in the sense that within that vision, there should be a good mix of cultivars across various price points, ensuring there's something for everyone who makes up the restaurant's clientele. An exciting by-the-glass option is also always appreciated."

What is your favourite go-to wine on a night off?
"Taaibosch Crescendo 2018 – it's a beautiful Cabernet Franc-led Bordeaux blend from the Helderberg."

What wine region in the world is the most interesting right now, in your opinion? Why?
"I have to choose a region in South Africa! I think Swartland is just producing the most exceptional and interesting wines at the moment. Drawing praise and interest both locally and abroad."

What is your most memorable wine moment?
"I was lucky enough to visit a wine farm for a few days of harvest. It was the most incredible experience getting to be a part of the winemaking team."

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