YOUR VERY OWN WINE SOMMELIER
Pronounced, ‘Sar-milly-ay’ – a Sommelier is a skilled wine steward whose in-depth knowledge of wine is all geared toward helping people to choose the right wine for their palate and chosen plate of food! Usually only found at high-end restaurants and hotels, Gift Muvembi has recently joined the Wade Bales Wine Co.
With a background in banking, Gift’s love for wine only emerged after he moved to Cape Town and found himself without a job.
“With a family to take care of, I then decided to get a waitering job and that’s where it all started for me,” says Gift, adding, “I never dreamt that I’d one day be so passionate about wine and working in the wine industry… in fact, the word ‘sommelier’ never even existed in my vocabulary!”
It was in 2013, whilst working at a restaurant in Clifton, that Gift’s eyes were first opened to the wonderful world of wine.
“That’s where I got my first taste of wine. And from that moment, I switched from drinking Castle lager to a few choice glasses of wine here and there. My love for wine only grew, and in 2017, I enrolled with Cape Wine Academy and later with the Wines and Spirits Education Trust in 2019.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Having worked for both the Kove Collection and as assistant sommelier at Rust en Vrede Estate, Gift now joins the team at Wade Bales – bringing with him all his passion, experience and one-of-a-kind presence.
“I’m looking forward to complimenting what this amazing team is already doing. I am also hoping to help customers feel confident of what they are purchasing as well as make the sometimes intimidating experience of buying wine much more simple. And of course, if you’re looking for any advice on what kind of dish to pair your wine with – I’m your man!”
What do you love about wine?
There are so many reasons we fall in love with wine, but here are my top ones:
Wine tells you a story. It reflects its environment, climate, soil, altitude and the year it was grown like no other product. Wine has such a rich and interesting history. We’re talking about the Romans, the Greeks, and the ancient Egyptians – who started making wines thousands of years ago. Wine is history in a glass! It’s also healthy for you (in moderation). Another reason I love wine is the health benefits of enjoying a glass or 2 of this amazing beverage. The antioxidants found in red wine help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes – I can drink to that! And finally, wine helps create beautiful lifelong moments. I can still vividly remember my first sip of a French wine… it was a Romanee-Conti Grands Echezeaux 2014. The memory is as fresh in my mind as the day it happened. It’s like I keep telling anyone who will listen: wine is happiness trapped in a bottle.
Most memorable bottle of wine you’ve ever opened?
If I had to pick one, it would have to be when I opened a bottle 2014 Pétrus for a guest. Pétrus, along with Le Pin, rank consistently among the world’s most expensive wines. The one I opened was about R40,000 per bottle.
What’s your personal favourite wine and food combo?
My happiest moments are when I have a glass of Pinot Noir and a lamb, pork, salmon or tuna dish alongside it. Smoked salmon in particular is a perfect combination because the wine has got a little higher acidity than most reds, complimenting the fish and cutting through its richness. It is also a very fruity wine so it works well with salmon’s rich, savoury flavour.