Fancy a drink? Our new drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris raises her glass to the week's best buys and looks at the latest wine news.

Diamond wining in South Africa

With all eyes on South Africa in the build-up to next summer's World Cup, Cape winemakers are hoping to join the premier league by raising awareness of their wine gems - and share a taste of the winning team's good fortune!

A happy football experience should make you thirsty, and the same goes for a great wine. Overseas footie fans who base themselves in Cape Town will not only be rewarded by a magnificent view of Table Mountain, but a memorable glass in their hand.

For the boys back home, Cape Town's Wines of South Africa is planning a series of international festivals, a World Cup for sommeliers and other novel initiatives in the UK and other worldwide destinations to coincide with important matches in the 2010 tournament.

With so many leading estates from the prized Stellenbosch coastal region vying for our attention, there are plenty of wines to shout and cheer about.

Top scores go to boutique winery Journey's End (let's hope it's not for the England team!) who produce hand-crafted premium wines which can be found in some of the country's best restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay at Claridges.

Try the elegant Journey's End Haystack Chardonnay 2008 (£9.75, which is ripe and creamy with rich aromas of almonds and greengage, and the lime acidity gives good balance.

For something to enjoy now or uncork in a couple of years, Journey's End Shiraz 2005 (£12.75, is full of rich berry fruits with earthy cigar box spice to give it an extra kick and I love its rich long aftertaste. Excellent with a Sunday roast while watching the action.

Flagstone is another small winery with award-winning wines at competitive prices, and I like their Flagstone Noon Gun Dry White 2009 (£6.99, Tesco). An interesting blend of 45% chenin blanc, 35% viognier and 20% sauvignon blanc, it's young, fresh and a delicious alternative to heavier whites.

SA's pinotage has got the experts' tongues wagging, and I'm happy to say it's for all the right reasons. Gone are the burnt, rubbery notes of earlier reds and there are some super silky blends out there, but you need to reach for the right bottle.

Flagstone Dragon Tree 2007 (£9.99, Tesco) is just the ticket and will jazz up any meal, even a burger! With 51% cabernet sauvignon, 24% shiraz, 22% pinotage and 3% merlot, it's barrel-matured for at least 18 months. Slosh it around in your glass as long as you can, and you'll sense all sorts of changing tastes.

When it comes to prize-winning, South Africa triumphed at the International Wine Awards with a total of 183 medals.

For a taste of success, try the champion red Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Guardian Peak (, £17.95). It's a pricey ticket, but you won't be disappointed with this opaque red with notes of toasted pine nuts, and great structure and length.

With many of SA's wineries operating a 'cellar door' policy for customers, they are happy to take visitors on a full tasting and tour of their vineyards - a fine finale to any trip.

Let's toast the beautiful game, and fingers crossed for the long-awaited Cup!

Best buy :: Cruising further north up the Cape Winelands or 'golden triangle', Tygerberg is one of the coolest wine regions. De Grendel's winery has spectacular views of Cape Town and the Atlantic, where the climate is ideal for its snappy De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (£7.99, Oddbins, 20% off any mixed case). With green fig and granny-smith apple aromas, and a lingering finish, it's a firm bet with a Chinese takeaway.

Liquid news :: Red, white or pink? It's a question often asked - but even wine-lovers don't always have the answer. So, the next time you're puzzled by a bottle on the shelf, an unpronounceable name, can't decide between merlot or malbec, or somewhat bemused by pinot gris and pinot grigio, check out the new website It makes buying easy-peasy with a good selection of wines, video clips to talk you through the tastings and handy notes to help de-mystify the wonderful world of the grape. Home shopping with a virtual sommelier - I'll drink to that!

:: Oh luvvie! Before wine took over his life, Britain's best-known wine expert Oz Clarke was a full-time actor and singer, starring in West End shows and touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company. As a number one fan of Oz And James Drink To Britain, I'm grateful he swapped the Stage Door for drink horizons. The maestro now brings us Oz Clarke 250 Best Wines 2010, published by Pavilion (£6.99, available now). Written with his trademark wisdom and wit, there are some real bargain beauties that will have you running to the nearest offy before the curtain rises.