Wine selection is a lot of fun but there are certain important factors that need to be considered when choosing wine. So we’ve asked Gregory Mutambe, Sommelier from The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa for some ideas.
Good aperitif choices include sparkling wine or Méthode Cap Classique (MCC), such as House of Krone’s Rose 2008. I also recommend Môreson Solitaire, which is a light white wine. Sherry is another interesting option.
If the first course is a light dish, say Citrus-cured Norwegian Salmon, then a matching light-bodied wine is required. Sauvignon Blanc is a great example – I recommend Steenberg and Black Oystercatcher, which produce fruity and light varieties with a fresh acidity. Or go for unwooded Chardonnay (Bouchard Finlayson’s Sans Barrique and De Westhof’s Bon Vallon are good examples). A Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend with a hint of oak works well with slightly heavier dishes such as Mushroom Risotto. Try Bizoe’s Henrietta or Veenwooden’s Chardonnay.
When it comes to the main course, fish or seafood dishes are generally best paired with white wines. Both wooded and unwooded varieties can work, depending on the cooking method – for poultry a light to medium-bodied red such as Pinot Noir (try Crystallum’s Cuvée Cinema) is great; other options include wooded white blends from the Swartland, or Boekenhoutskloof’s Semillon. For red game dishes, Pinotage or a Rhone-style blend complements the dish well, thanks to the brumble fruit component, full-bodied mouth feel and hints of spice and earthiness. Beef fillet or lamb chops are best served with a Cabernet Sauvignon (Le Riche’s Reserve and Thelema are great choices) or a Bordeaux-style blend – my recommendations include De Toren’s Fusion V and Warwick Wine Estate’s Warwick Trilogy.
For desserts such as Crème brûlée and cheese cake, natural sweet wines like Vin de Constance are the perfect match, while Dark Chocolate Cake cries out for a Vintage or Tawny port.
Last but not least, the digestif, served with coffee. Depending on taste, try Amarula, Grappa or a top quality brandy – Van Ryn’s 15 Year Old Fine Cask Reserve is a personal favourite.
Gregory Mutambe graduated from the Cape Wine Academy, named by the academy’s principal as one of the most talented students in his class. Starting his career working as a cellar-hand in a Zimbabwean winery, he then moved to train and work in a Johannesburg restaurant after which he came to Cape Town to work as as the Sommelier at the Vineyard Hotel and Spa. Combining his experience, passion and by working closely with Executive Chef, Henrico Grobbelaar, he now enjoys advising and discussing the ideal wine pairing with guests and diners a the Twelve Apostles Hotel’s Azure Restaurant.