Carrie’s corner: Celebrating wine with Dan Nicholl

Described as ‘a complete and utter asset to South Africa’, Dan Nicholl joined our host and wine expert, Carrie Adams, to talk and celebrate all things wine. Born in Belfast and brought up in Zimbabwe, Nicholl worked as a sports commentator in South Africa, where his passion for wine grew. – Jarryd Neves

Dan Nicholl on his background:

I was born in Belfast and I grew up in Zimbabwe. My mother is South African and I went to the University of Cape Town. It was while I was there, that I started on radio – from university radio through to Cape Talk and then on to iAfrica.com. While working as their sports editor, I discovered that our lifestyle editor had too many invitations to take up, for things like restaurant openings and wine launches. [I stuck my] hand up as casually as I possibly could for a 20-something bachelor with not much money in his pocket. I said, ‘well, I suppose I could possibly make time to help you out with one or two of those’. I still remember going to my very first one, I got sent out to what was then Stellenzicht Wines, now part of the Ernie Els empire.

On how his love for wine developed:

I spent the next next few years with iAfrica.com going to every event I could. Unusually, for somebody who talks for a living, just sitting and listening to people like Peter Finlayson at a lunch. Having him tell me about his love of Pinot Noir and how his career had played out, going out to Dornier and meeting their team, their winemakers and just learning.

I think we live in an age where listening to other people is not really a collective asset but it put me in great stead. It allowed me in 2016, a year after the Dan Nicholl Show started on television – to kick off Dan Really Likes Wine. For just over four years, we’ve been talking about wine, celebrating wine and enjoying what is just such a wonderful South African asset.

On the Wine Futures conference:

I attended the first two days and the majority of the third. I think just as an overview – before looking at some of the specific spaces – what I really enjoyed about this conference was the diversity. It’s a word that we employ – and I think is has lost some of its impact from overuse – but diversity, not just in terms of gender or ethnicity, but the diversity of topic and of background of the people speaking.

It wasn’t just here a couple of wine makers, wine exporters, somebody who runs a wine show and somebody involved in a trade organisation. It was people involved in the coffee industry, people who ran data businesses, people who were involved in the broader transport trade. From all sort of spaces who made you think beyond what you might normally have expected to be thinking about at of wine show.

That was coupled with an event that was unafraid to address spaces that we often don’t like talking about. They looked at issues of gender inequality in the wine industry. They looked at embargo’s and how we going to get trade shows up and running, in a time when people being together in large groups just isn’t feasible. 

On Portuguese wine:

If I go back now about 12 years, the holiday to Europe where I met my wife, we were – as a group – together in the Algarve and we went shopping on the first morning. We’d rented a villa together and there was Portuguese wine and French wine. Not really knowing Portuguese wine – and wanting to look terribly important – I bought 20 euro bottles of French wine, instead of the two euro bottles of Portuguese wine. Then, the French wine ran out and I grudgingly had a glass of the Portuguese – that was twice as good as the French wine.

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