Gregory Mutambe: Sip-and-swirl expert

2011-06-10 16:21

Sommelier Gregory Mutambe says of his unusual job: “It’s an art understanding people’s palates. I talk to them, they give me clues and
sometimes I get it 100% right.”

He’s the man who helps diners decide which wine to drink with a meal for the perfect dinner experience.

The 27-year-old Mutambe says his career in wine started accidentally.

After finishing school, he thought he’d become an accountant like his dad, but didn’t have the right subjects. He then tried a few different jobs in his native Zimbabwe.

Then fate came knocking when he was offered a job at a small wine cellar in Marondera.

“I never thought I’d drink wine, but the job offer at the cellar was a good accident. Wine found me.”

Having discovered a passion for wine, Mutambe realised that he was going to have to make a move to take his career further. He had to leave his home country and he found himself in Cape Town, a far cry from his native Harare.

In 2006 he began his three-year diploma at the Cape Wine Academy, where he excelled.

He got his first on-the-job training at Joburg’s trendy Signature restaurant and then moved back to the Mother City’s Vineyard Hotel and Spa.

This May he began a new job at the exclusive 12 Apostles Boutique Hotel in Cape Town.

Here he works with chef Henrico Grobbelaar in the Azure Restaurant, which is the first Cape eatery to introduce fynbos cooking.

The young wine-lover remembers his first glass of wine – a “sparkling Chenin”.

He says that the future is very bright for his generation and that anything is possible.

He reserves most of his effusiveness about the future for his own profession, which he says is one that will become more and more prominent as diners’ appreciation grows.

As for his own plans for the future, they are satisfyingly community-minded. “I wouldn’t be who I am today if I wasn’t helped.

That’s what I want, to inspire the youth.”

He says deciding what to do with your life can be confusing and he’d like the chance to help others find their way into his burgeoning line of work.
 
As for his personal ambition, his next aim is to get to London to do a master sommelier course to grow his knowledge.

But most of all, Mutambe wants to continue to get his recommendations about what to drink with a certain meal 100% right.

Why? “All for the love of wine, of course.”


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