Olga Hafner Meridian Wine Merchants

Olga Hafner is sharing her selection of wines for festive season entertaining. Image: Salvelio Meyer

Let’s drink to that: Festive season wine for every occasion

Wine rack empty and holiday engagements looming? Relax, we’ve got you covered.

Olga Hafner Meridian Wine Merchants

Olga Hafner is sharing her selection of wines for festive season entertaining. Image: Salvelio Meyer

Though festive season entertaining is likely to look a little different in 2020, there is still much to celebrate and be grateful for. 

We roped in wine fundi Olga Hafner to share her pick of wines for successful, stress-free holiday entertaining, even when going the low-key route.

Olga is a veteran of the South African wine industry, and her experience and knowledge of the country’s wine scene is legendary. She is also very proud of her Greek heritage and, at 75, is still an active regional director and shareholder of Meridian Wine Merchants. 


Olga has been a key member of this wine sales, distribution and marketing company since it was established in 1997, and an undeniable part of its success.

Before that, she spent many years as the face of Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (now Distell) in the Eastern Cape, and was instrumental in growing an interest in quality wines in the region.  

Whether you’re planning Christmas dinner, a picnic with pals, a couple of fuss-free family braais or simply intend to chill by the pool with a glass of something equally chilled in hand, we’ve got you covered. 

Here is Olga’s personal pick of wines that will have you sailing through the season.  


festive season wine
This classy trio will fit right in for Christmas dinner. Image: Salvelio Meyer

On the menu: Gammon

Wine of choice: Ken Forrester Renegade 2017

Why it works: “I would highly recommend Ken Forrester Renegade, an elegant Rhone blend,” Olga said. “The juiciness and young fruitiness of the grenache would complement the gammon, while the hints of spice in the shiraz would marry well with the element of sweetness in the glaze.”

On the menu: Turkey

Wine of choice: De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Why it works: “I chose this wine as it is a wooded sauvignon blanc. The longer lees contact makes the wine fuller in style, with bold fruit flavours of gooseberries, fynbos and asparagus. These would go so well with the moist, flavourful meat of the turkey and its crisp, golden skin.”

On the menu: Christmas pudding

Wine of choice: Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose (non-vintage)

Why it works: As the traditional Christmas pudding was rich and decadent, Olga said she would pair it with this deliciously dry and crisp Méthode Cap Classique wine.

“This bubbly has a rich strawberry and cherry flavour, but an elegant dry finish to balance the sweetness of the dessert.”


festive season wines
These wines will serve you well at a picnic or with canapes. Image: Salvelio Meyer

On the menu: Cold meat platter

Wine of choice: Delaire Graaff Summercourt Chardonnay 2019

Why it works: Olga said she would pair this wine with the cold meats as a refreshing foil to the more serious layers of smoky and perhaps spicy flavours of the meat. “This chardonnay, which has a reserved oaking, is sumptuous and opulently juicy, with enticing tropical fruit flavours. Very refreshing!”

On the menu: Salmon and cream cheese

Wine of choice: Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2020

Why it works: “This wine is full-flavoured and complex, with flavours of citrus, green herbs and asparagus. It would be excellent against the smokiness of the salmon and the creaminess of the cheese — a real match made in heaven.”

On the menu: Venison carpaccio

Wine of choice: Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir Reserve 2017

Why it works: According to Olga, the pinot noir varietal is an ideal accompaniment to venison loin and therefore also venison carpaccio, which is often made from the loin.

“The flavours of red fruit and spice, with the hint of an oak aroma, would pair extremely well with the venison and leave a satisfying, velvety finish,” she said.


Some fire-side friends for your holiday braais. Image: Salvelio Meyer

On the menu: Beef steak

Wine of choice: Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2017 

Why it works: “No braai is complete without a pinotage and this one is from the king of pinotage, Beyers Truter,” Olga said.

“This wine is very well balanced, with a long, juicy aftertaste. The flavours of blackberry and plum, with hints of cedar oak, are the perfect accompaniment to a tender steak on a hot braai. This is definitely a moreish wine when gathered around a fire.”

On the menu: Spicy chicken sosaties 

Wine of choice: Marras Los Tros Chenin Blanc 2019

Why it works: Marras is the label of talented young Swartland winemaker Martin Lamprecht. This wine has lemon and apricot on the nose, and stone fruit characteristics on the palate, complemented by a crisp acidity — a perfect partner for the spicy chicken.

On the menu: Lamb chops 

Wine of choice: Leopards Leap Merlot 2019 

Why it works: “The merlot has prominent flavours of red fruit, mulberry and dark plum, which brilliantly enhance the taste of the lamb chops as they come off the grid. It’s a perfect pairing between a fruity red wine and the braaied, smoky flavour from the lamb chops.”


festive season wine
A trio of easy-drinking but still-elegant summer wines. Image: Salvelio Meyer

Picture it: You and your guy/gal pals in holiday high gear with a glass of something suitably chilled in hand. No snacks required — these are wines you can enjoy with or without food, all summer long.

White wine of choice: Tokara Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Why it works: This wine offered amazing freshness on the palate, with a zesty grapefruit flavour, and aromas of passion fruit and lemongrass, Olga said.

“This would be a perfect wine to savour around the pool.”

Rosé of choice: De Grendel Rosé 2020 

Why it works: “The flavours of watermelon, raspberry coulis and passion fruit in this rosé are incredibly refreshing and delicious, leaving a crisp, citrus aftertaste. This is a lovely wine to quaff with friends.”

Red blend of choice: La Motte Millennium 2018 

Why it works: “The Millennium is an exceptional Bordeaux-style wine with inviting flavours of raspberry, mulberry, cinnamon and spice, and a hint of mint in the aftertaste,” Olga said.

“It’s great even on its own simply because it is such a well-balanced wine.”