Categorized | Introduction

Let me Introduce Myself

Posted on 24 October 2013 by David Biggs

Let me introduce myself.

I was born and raised in the Karoo, where my parents lived on a sheep farm. After trying several careers, including milk testing, cattle ranching and Basotho blanket designing, I settled on journalism and found a job as a reporter on the historic The Friend newspaper (now closed) in Bloemfontein, where I worked for 10 years before being transferred to Cape Town to work on the Cape Argus.

In Cape Town I discovered the delights of wine and attended two wine courses at the Gilbeys Wine academy in Stellenbosch. This was before the establishment of the Cape Wine Academy.

I produced a weekly wine column for the Cape Argus for some 30 years before retiring in 1999. During that time I qualified as a Cape wine judge and have served on various wine judging panels, including the Veritas Awards panel (since its inception) and the Wine of the Month Club panel, also since its inception in 1986.

I also serve on the annual Terroir Awards and Muscadel Association judging panels.

For the past 30 years or more I have written a daily column for the Cape Argus, under the heading of Tavern of the Seas, and contribute regularly to Good Taste Magazine.

I’ve also written several books on wine and cocktails, as well as a collection of short stories called Karoo Ramblings and a guide to Cape Town called This Is Cape Town, published by Struik. My books have been translated into a number of languages including Chinese and Japanese.

I live in Fish Hoek with two second-hand cats and sometimes irritate my neighbours by playing a piano accordion. I also paint very amateur pictures, usually of dragons.

I enjoy riding a Vespa scooter and have managed several long scooter journeys in South African and Europe.

I think life is fun.




5 Comments For This Post

  1. Nick Goldie Says:

    (not for publication)

    Dave – sorry to drop in and out of your life in this bouncy way.

    Shortly after you replied to my first message, my computer was wiped by an electrical storm. This sort of thing always happens when the technical people are away on their (well deserved) holidays which can last from Christmas to Easter. I’m now back in the world of the electronic living, but have no memories, addresses, saved correspondence or anything of that sort – hence using this venue. Meanwhile, I’ve been somewhat busy for the past two weeks with a major bushfire (2012 ha) in very rough gorge country, just down the road. My fire brigade radio tells me – as I write – that there are still some hot-spots which have to be found and doused. For a while we thought that it was going to head north by way of Namadgi National Park into the suburbs of Canberra, 60km away. This sounds improbable, but in January 2003 the fire which started just outside Canberra made its way, by way of the Namadgi National Park, to shower us with embers across the river. You probably have no idea of where I am: my wife Jenny and I have 100 acres of scrubby country beside the Murrumbidgee, 60km south of Canberra, with non-productive olive trees, kangaroos, feral fallow deer, weeds, gum trees. We do our weekly shopping in Cooma.
    Enough already … I look forward to hearing from you -


  2. Johne907 Says:

    Its actually a nice and helpful piece of information. Im glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing. kaagfeedkefe

  3. David Biggs Says:

    Great. Keep in touch with this space.

  4. Ingrid de Beer Says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the introduction :)
    I recently worked on a television show about the Karoo- it truly is a magical place. I would like to send you a box set of the series.Please pop me a mail so we can get in touch?


  5. David Biggs Says:

    Hi Ingrid,
    My e-mail address is
    My postal address is PO Box 236, Muizenburg, 7950.
    You’re absolutely right about the Karoo being a magical place.
    Look forward to hearing from you.

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Tavern of the Seas

Tavern of the Seas readers often ask for details of past issues. To make things easier (and to amuse you… or make you think) past columns will now appear here, roughly two days after they are first printed in the Cape Argus. Thanks to Independent Newspapers for allowing us to do this.

  • Spare a thought for harmonica salespeople

    January 26, 2015 at 12:26 am by David Biggs

    (Published: 22nd January 2015)
    If school leavers are looking for a really challenging career I have a suggestion for them.
    I believe one of the toughest jobs on earth is that of a harmonica sales person.
    I recently went into a music store wanting to buy a harmonica. The shop had a whole array of tempting-looking instruments. The shop assistant wanted to sell me one. I wanted to buy one. That’s usually a sound basis for trade.
    We parted without a sale being made.
    Think about the challenge. If you’re selling a drum or a guitar you can tell the customer: “Give it a bash and hear what it sounds like.” A keyboard presents no problems.
    A trumpet player or clarinet player probably arrives in the store with his own personal mouthpiece, complete with his personal family of intimate germs. No problem. He clips the mouthpiece in place, gives a few toots and says: “Nah! Too squeaky,” or “Hey. Yes. Cool notes! I’ll take this one.”
    A harmonica, on the other hand, fits more or less inside the player’s mouth and is in intimate, slightly gobby, contact with his lips and tongue. There isn’t a separate mouthpiece you can take home and disinfect.
    So it would take a great deal of cunning and persuasion to get a customer to try out a used harmonica, even if it’s been blown briefly by one musician. These things cost hundreds of rands, even for a small one, and you aren’t about to pay R400 for the chance of picking up somebody else’s germs.
    The customer wants to try out an untested harmonica. The salesman wants to sell a virgin harmonica. Deadlock.
    I suppose a talented salesman could learn (but how?) what each instrument sounds like and imitate it for the potential buyer.
    “Sir, this is a good little instrument. I goes ‘Weeoowee, dowah dowaaah du wah,” but if you want something a little more mellow, this one goes ‘Moowah, moowah-moowah-wah-wah.’ Take your pick.”
    I suppose one answer to the problem would be to have all the harmonicas lined up in glasses of disinfectant, like the combs in a barber’s shop. I’m not sure I’d be too enthusiastic about filling the store with Dettol-flavoured gob bubbles, though.
    Ideally you’d have the demo models lined up in disinfectant and brand new ones still in their boxes on the shelf. As I mentioned, however, these instruments are expensive and not in huge demand. It would probably not be economically viable to have two sets of them on sale.
    We live in a fast moving world and I pass on this information to those of an inventive turn of mind.
    Maybe there’s a fortune waiting to be made by somebody who invents a sterile harmonica testing system.

    Continue Reading
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    January 23, 2015 at 12:33 am by David Biggs

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    January 22, 2015 at 12:03 am by David Biggs

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  • Plain Folk a Better Bet than Winners of the Tour de Face

    January 21, 2015 at 12:15 am by David Biggs

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     Have 66 more links to previous articles please

    Nederburg 2013 Interviews David Biggs