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Dry, Sweet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Rose, Rouge, Pinot Noir, Red, White…
I’m pretty certain you managed to guess what I’m talking about. WINE.
These are key words best known by both wine and non-wine drinkers.
If ever you needed a wine expert to explain this further, today we are in luck. Beetroot chats with Tawanda Marume, a sommelier from Cape Town now based in Gauteng and co-owner of Expressions Wines Africa.
How did you decide on becoming a sommelier?
Being a sommelier was never my intention. While working in a wine shop – Wine Concepts, I always found it difficult whenever customers asked me for a food recommendation to a particular wine because I simply had no idea – what goes with what. From there I decided it would be handy if I go and work in a restaurant were I could learn a bit of both food and wine pairing. I went on to apply for a position at La Colombe Restaurant and I was lucky enough to get a position. Only then did I realise how much fun working with food and wine and meeting people was.
That was the beginning of my sommelier journey.
Red vs. White, I think for me and most people that is the most basic wine characteristic, how do you best explain the two?
I always explain it to people this way: If you take wine as a car within the car categories we have Mercedes, BMW, Audi etc., these are different types of cars but they are all cars.
It is pretty much in the making of it.
Red wine is made with the contact of skins, were you get the colour and the tannin (the bitterness of the wine). Red wine dries out your mouth.
White wine is made without skins for the most part. It is much crisper and much more refreshing that is why white wine is best served chilled.
What makes good wine?
I use five points which abbreviate to BLICC. Balance Length Integration Complex Character
Balance: between acid alcohol sugar or acid alcohol tannins
Length: how long in your mouth can you still taste the wine after swallowing it?
Integration: how well the wine is integrated and this should equate to one unit, you look at the oak used or the acidity added.
Complexity: how many flavours you get from the wine, is it one dimensional? are you smelling one flavour or many different flavours.
Character: wine must show what it is
In a few words, how best would you explain each one these wine varietals, and give a food recommendation
• Pinot noir
• Cabernet Sauvignon
• Sauvignon Blanc
Pinot noir: Lighter style and lighter skin, usually served a little bit chilled and pairs well with light meats like duck or braised pork.
Merlot: Tends to be a little bit heavy and rich and best paired with heavy dishes like steaks.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Similar to merlot, usually has more weight and tannin. I recommend game meats and steaks
Sauvignon Blanc: Light and refreshing pairs well with light dishes, salads, tuna or simply as an aperitif
Chardonnay: Fuller palette and less acidity. I recommend chicken dishes and sometimes pasta
What is your best cheap wine recommendation, a bottle below a R100
That is tricky: there are so many choices in that price category. If you want to go red, Stellenbosch wines are a good place to start. If you are opting for white, Elgon and Elgin.
But I’d say Konkelberg Rouge from Longridge. It is a beautiful red blend and Sauvignon Blanc from Lomond. The wine is really elegant, light, refreshing. It makes a punch.
Talk us through your company, Expression Wines Africa
Expression wines is a thought I had many years ago. I wanted to take wines back into Zimbabwe so I started writing the concept of expression wines back in 2012. When I moved to Jo’burg I decided to finally get it going.
We are brand ambassadors, we represent wine about 9 wine farms. We handle their sales, marketing, promotion, brand activation and just looking for new business for the farms.
We also work as sommeliers, we are on the floor, serving wine – doing restaurant training, wine list development, wine tasting events etc. We try to cover as much ground as we can for anything wine related so that most people can drink and enjoy wine.
We want to educate people on wine and get them to understand wine, and have them appreciate wine for what it is. Wine tastes better when you understand it and that is what drives us.
Where do you want to see Expression Wines Africa 5 years from now?
In 5 years we hope to be in distribution- Involved in both Southern and Eastern Africa.
We hope to be able to service our clients from our own warehouse.
We also want to be a leading consultant in terms of wine list development and restaurant and waiter training. Finally, we hope to be able to export out of South Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe, where the whole dream came from.
Tawanda Marume- Sommelier and Director at Expression Wines Africa
LinkedIn: Tawanda Marume – https://www.linkedin.com/in/tawanda-marume-8b150b4a
Facebook: Tawanda Marume
Interview was done by Ruth Sameke, an International Relations and Politics graduate with a monumental love for simple words turned into a read.Her blogging site is https://virtuousruth.wordpress.com