SINCE opening its doors at Greyville in 1979, The Mercury Wine Week has annually relocated the Cape to Durban such that enthusiastic newcomers or veterans well versed in the intricacies of the fermented grape can explore their wine horizons.

Now, after wandering around town in a host of venues from exhibition centres to sheds on the quayside and spectacular views over the ocean, The Mercury Wine Week is returning to its roots at Greyville Convention Centre with renewed vigour.

This is the 38th time the city has hosted the event and this year’s attractions promise another exciting exhibition of wine, food and information. Patrons will again have an opportunity to interact with winemakers in the popular Wine Theatre where the experts tackle topics not conducive to the display table.

Whereas the interaction over the display tables are typically limited to the wines on the table or some discussions on the vintage if the area is not too crowded, the Wine Theatre will have scope for broader wine-related indulgences that will hopefully tickle the imagination to learn even more about the glories of wine.

However, key to The Mercury Wine Week experience is the host of exhibitors and the hundreds of wines for tasting, each unique to their terroir, attention to detail, prices and markets. There will be the new-season sauvignon blancs proudly boasting characteristics of cut grass, asparagus and summer fruits; the chardonnays eliciting the arguments both for and against its consumption and the sparkling wines or methode cap classiques (MCCs) – South Africa’s interpretation of the champagne classic that, in paraphrasing Madame Bollinger, should be drunk anytime.

There will be the red wines from the manly characteristics of tobacco and wood common to cabernet sauvignon to the spicy headiness of shiraz and the complex blending outcomes of Bordeax, Rhône and Cape-style wines that highlight the art and mastery of winemaking. There will also be the dessert wines and fortified variations that always offer a welcome finish to the evening.

Yet, while savouring the fun and expanding the memory banks, it is important to realise The Mercury Wine Week has a serious side too. Annually proceeds from the event are donated to The Mercury Hibberdene Children’s Holiday Home down the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.

The home opened its doors on March 31, 1935 with the express purpose of providing children’s holidays. Many of the initial recipients were orphans from World War I and over the past nearly 80 years, its walls have heard the squeals of delight from generations of youth and its floors have been the welcome repositories for mountains of beach sand trundled in after sand-building competitions.

Those pure joys have remained unchanged despite the intervening years.

These children have been drawn from across the province. Today some of them are supported in homes by welfare services; some are orphans in child-headed households and some are just desperately poor children living on welfare grants.

The home accommodates 120 children equally separated in two cheery dormitories that overlook the garden, swimming pool and the much-anticipated beach that touches the boundary. The grounds lend themselves to ball games and organised sports, while the community hall gives vent to talent concerts, shows and indoor entertainment.

Camps are organised for every school holiday with two or three scheduled during the longer breaks.

Tickets for The Mercury Wine Week, being hosted August 24-26, cost R120 purchased via iTickets (bookings open July 25) or R140 at the door. Show times are 5:30 to 8:30pm.