ONCE upon a time, a chap left two different vines alone in his greenhouse with a bit of Sinatra playing softly in the background and, as you might expect, they had a baby. The parent vines were pinot noir and cinsault and the baby was called pinotage.

That's a lovely story isn't it, and it gets even better when you add in that pinotage became a national treasure for South Africa, giving its wine industry something that previously only belonged to a select few countries...its own grape.

I haven't dwelled on the fact that I don't really care for either of the parents with pinot invariably being too thin, too expensive or just too smelly and cinsault being the ugly duckling that never turned into a swan. Still, they created a grape that has over time, grown on me, along with countless millions of others, but it’s a peculiar one.

For decades, it’s been a Marks & Sparks-type wine, pleasant and fruity, but not one to light your fire, however, all that is changing as more and more winemakers in the Cape have got serious about it. Admittedly, the really cheap ones still have an aroma like a pub loo and a body like an underfed model but out of the six I tried recently, one was okay, four were really good and one was superb. Contrast that to a tasting I did a decade ago when I didn't know whether to reach for the sick bag or the polo mints first.

Anyway, my humble message to you about this humble grape is to give it a go but please, in the love of all that's holy, don't head to the bargain bin.

Southern Right Pinotage, SA

This is a gorgeous wine in every respect. It’s got brambly fruit and soft but evident tannins with a hint of spicy vanilla on the finish. It stands up well to hot spicy dishes.

Pop Wines Glasgow £19.50

House of Dreams Pinotage, SA

Wow, this is definitely a step up from the pinotages of old in M&S and especially for the price. Cherries on the nose with generous dollops of blackcurrant on the palate and a hint of wood spice on the finish.

Marks & Spencer £8