We are wined out and dined out by the time we hit Paarl. We keep it simple and stay at Spice Route, an estate that houses just a little bit of everything.
For a breakfast break from all that wine, Wilderer Distillery offers some alternative flights.
First, there is a flight of grappa, the vintner's leftovers, a distillation of grape skins and pulp. The Shiraz is deep and assertive, the Muscato is nurturing and sweet, and the Pinotage is exceptional, like a lighter port with a sprinkling of sugar or a denser ice wine that shows some restraint.
For a flight of the harder stuff, there is a gin infused with Cape Fynbos Healing Herbs that assaults with pungent notes of licorice-like herbs, the very vision of an Asian apothecary. The Fynbos Gin is drier than dry, stronger than strong, yet it finishes with a blissful, bitter burn. Bierschnaps is indescribable. A not-so-carbonated hoppy but not-so-IPA, kind-of-gin notes but not so bitter...it is different, the good kind of different, but it's hard to outshine that gin.
Liquor then beer? Nope. Skipping the microbrewery (regrettably) in favor of the master meat tasting. There is standard salami, hard and airy pork rinds, and a spicy chorizo that sings with sherry and singes with garlic. They turn the less popular neck cut of coppa into something exceptional here, and the stripes of fat are delightful. The proscuitto is even more fatty and firm, and it's among the better ones I've had. Meats by Richard Bosman...Do not skip.
Meat-snack then dessert. De Villiers Chocolate, a full-circle tasting of almost every awesome chocolate bar they make. The chocolate and confectionery tasting is a journey through dark, cocao-packed bars, aromatic infusions like Orange Peel & Vanilla and saucy Cinnamon & Chili, sweet milk chocolate mixed with salted caramel, and curiosities like chip-like snacking thins and an airy orange-cranberry nougat.
It's quite the journey at Spice Route, and there's much to amuse. It's not all food and booze, mind you, there's also a gorgeous gallery of artisan glass and a couple of shops for higher-end souvenirs. It's easy to stay day - you can devour and imbibe to your heart's content, and you can even take a pilates class to burn off the Bosman. I would have like to see more of Paarl and what lies beyond the Spice Route complex, but for a fun-filled, less exertional day, Spice Route is where it's at.