Wine with a dash of salt on the side

I’ve been to many wine tastings but never one that included a salt tasting as happened on a recent Saturday when a noisy bus-load of 70 of us arrived at the beautiful De Rust Estate in Elgin, home since 1896 of the Cluver family.

There to welcome the group was the tall, lean, former neurosurgeon Dr Paul Cluver whose magnificent wood carvings in the tasting room are just one side of his many talents. He explained why his name appeared on the estate’s first own-label wines in 1997 – nobody could think of a suitable one. It turned out to be an excellent choice. Currently his son, the fourth generation Paul Cluver, is the heir and MD of the family-run enterprise.

Paul’s daughter Liesl led us through a great tasting of their cooler-climate whites and pinot noir, after which we were introduced to Craig Cormack, who in December opened the restaurant “Salt” on the Cluver estate with his partner Beau du Toit. Both are passionate about NACL sodium chloride, or the taste we call salt.

Craig has been pairing wine and salts for nearly six years and believes he is the first to take up this challenge anywhere in the world.

He has a collection of 96 out of 147 types of which we sampled six, each allotted its own little space within a wooden box on our tables. As my knowledge of salt is limited to three sorts – coarse sea salt, refined salt and liver salts – I was amazed to see pink, black, red and light brown salts.

Three hailed from Hawaii – Red Alaea, Black Lava and Pink Hawaiian Mountain – and the light brown chunky Murray River salt which hails from Australia.

Two salts from the West Coast – Fleur du Sal and Pearl Caviar – were also sampled, initially on their own, then with wine, giving us a chance to experience how the textures and tastes of the six differed. Some were crunchier (and don’t laugh), saltier than others. Some wines were enhanced by the salt and others were overwhelmed by it.

All of which is the challenge for Craig to prepare dishes with different salts not only to fit a flavour profile but also to pair harmoniously with a wine.

Borehole meters

Xanthea Limberg’s “Dos and don’ts for borehole owners” which appeared in a recent Bulletin left me wondering how the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) could effectively police the amount of underground water every householder may use, without running the risk of being fined, or going to prison.

We are told that borehole/wellpoint water must be metered. But who is to provide that meter? As our City council meters have to be approved, tested and sealed, it’s unlikely that the DWS will accept meters bought and installed by home owners in case they are inaccurate.

Does the DWS intend to bring and install our underground water meters outside our gates so their inspectors have easy access to check on our consumption?

More importantly who will determine what the acceptable amount of water should be? Some folk use underground water only for their gardens. We use it for the washing machine, swimming pool, an outside loo and to irrigate.

How will some DWS inspector decide what amount is acceptable for us, let alone all those homeowners who, out of fear of “Day Zero”, now only use borehole or wellpoint water in their homes?

The whole exercise of trying to monitor underground water is likely to be costly and time-wasting.
Far better to put that money into stopping all the leaks and setting up desalination plants.

Water savvy swallows

I have been pleasantly surprised how co-operative some English “swallows” have been about our water restrictions, particularly after a news report that some English visitors decided not to visit the Cape this summer because of our water crisis.

One visitor told me proudly that she has cut down her 
permitted 90-second shower to 65 seconds by adroitly speeding up her soaping and wetting routine.

Her husband’s wasteful ways of washing dishes no longer includes a whole basin full of water for rinsing. He now manages to do good job with half the amount.

Another heard me complain that our loo did not always clear when flushed with a bucket of grey water.
“Good heavens Fiona,” she said in her brisk English voice. “You are doing it all wrong. You don’t pour the bucket water down the loo, you put it into the cistern so it’s ready for the next flush.”

I promptly filled a bucket of wellpoint water and carried it to the loo… only to realise why I had never thought before of using the cistern.

This loo does not have one. The plumbing is all hidden in the wall.

Thoughtful neighbours

Last month near-neighbours circulated notes in our letter boxes saying they were hosting their daughter’s wedding and apologised in advance for any inconvenience this event might cause.

Now we’ve received another note from an 18-year-old in the same road, possibly the same family, advising us about his birthday party on March 3 and asked in advance for our understanding if the noise was louder than usual.

What courtesy. And how much we, and I’m sure other neighbours, appreciated the thoughtfulness. In advance it took away the pain of the doff doff doof of the big bass drum.

Don’t say it

A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it.