Soweto Wine Festival by a teetotaler

I shouldn’t have gone to the Soweto Wine Festival.

Not that I didn’t enjoy it but because my doctor said so. Two days before the night I was set to grace the event I got a nasty throat infection which meant I would be a grumpy troll with a husky voice until my throat was healed to a point where I could swallow anything besides the 13 boxes of of Mageu I stocked up to get me through the week (I apologise to any residents of Tembisa who couldn’t get a hold of any Mageu from Neo’s Fast Food on the 2nd of March, it is I who finished what remained of the stock.)

My health woes were the least of my worries though, a primary one being that I don’t meet the minimum requirements of a wine festival goer. Two years ago I took of vow of sobriety so going there would be like Mother Theresa getting front row seats to the Sexpo (Which I’d love to go to, so Melanie, get me those tickets please!).

Two boxes of Mageu remaining, Friday evening was creeping closer and closer and the excitement grew. A bit of the excitement was because my partner in crime, Bongs, decided he’s going to join me in my quest. He was also there as a bodyguard, unbeknown to him, in case any of the Soweto residents I might have offended with my Social Media jabs of the township were there to give me a piece of their mind or a fistful of tears – fists being theirs and the tears being mine.

I was done with my work for the week and that meant I was only a little bit late. 19:30 I was at the Soweto Theatre searching for parking which didn’t take too long to find. Plus I had a few minutes to marvel at the beauty that is the Soweto Theatre as I waited for Bongs to show up. He did 15 minutes later which meant I only had 2 hours to politely say “No, thanks” to any offers of wine I was set to receive throughout the night.

And man, did I have to say “No” to some amazing wines!

The “Blake’s Family Wine” stall was the first to catch our eye. Bongs and I received a glass of their 2016 Chenin Blanc which Bongs quickly confiscated from my hand the minute I was done sniffing up the vanilla aroma radiating from the glass. If my mouth wasn’t gonna get any then my nose was more than willing to take one for the team.

We went from stall to stall not only to view the wines but to also network and it was then that I met Lewethu who was there to promote and sell her books which are wine guides, one of them titled “Everything you wanted to know about wine but were too afraid to ask”. She was patient with me and my newly-found husky voice and though I am sure she missed half of the things I was saying she sure made it feel like she was latching onto my every word.

Taking a tour of the theatre I was notified by a new friend with an unforgettable face whose name I forgot that the beautiful noise I was hearing was a band by the name of “Urban Village”. Their leading artist emphasized that they’re not a band but a collection of up and coming musical talents. Sounds like a mouthful so I’ll call you a band, sir. Forgive me.

I soon got tired of hearing music and felt like listening to conversations that didn’t rhyme which meant I did what everyone else seemed to be doing – socializing. That is after all what lifestyle events like the Soweto Wine Festival are for. It seemed like a daunting task since I figured that the event would be filled with hipsters in Chinos who use words like “Emancipation” in every sentence. You know, the Braamfontein bearded guys and girls in white platform shoes but once again I was wrong.

Sure, they were there but I got to find a few people like me who are south of snobbish and didn’t know what the big deal with Appellation is but were there to learn and get a glimpse of the lifestyle being built around the drinks adorning the back section of every Pick n Pay.

Would I do it again?

Yes. Hopefully with better health and with a more open outlook on the lifestyle that many South Africans seem to be drawn to. I might even make it a mission to ensure that the person I go with is not a drunkard that gets lost every 10 minutes. (I love you Bongs)

By: Bonisile Mgidi

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