Love it or hate it, most can agree that Pinotage is distinctive. After all, it isn’t a naturally occuring grape variety. This crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault (at that time called Hermitage, hence the name “Pino-tage”) was created in 1925 by scientist Abraham Perold in his personal garden. Why? Nobody knows — Perold left no notes about his motivations. Regardless, he left South Africa with a grape that combines rich fruit with odd and interesting non-fruity notes that can range from smoke and leather at best, to burnt rubber and barbecued roadkill at worst. For better or worse, Pinotage is unique to South Africa, rarely found internationally. And in the country, vintners are making better wines from old vines or through Pinotage-based “Cape blends.”

Intrigued? Learn about South Africa’s signature variety with our illustrated guide.

An Illustrated Guide to Pinotage