Date Night Discoveries

Hi Wine Lovers!!!

So, I’m in a long distance relationship and my Fave Human lives in Johannesburg. I’ve been told that Joburg – Cape Town doesn’t count as a long distance relationship because it’s just two hours and we have no time difference but I don’t care. If I cannot see him whenever I like, it’s a long distance relationship. Okay? (I’m not crying)

Because we see each other briefly over a weekend here and a weekend there, date night is the highlight of our time spent. I can’t explain how special Fave Human make date night, simply because he is so mindful. From the moment I walk in, there’s a glass of wine waiting, which he chose from either sheer guess work after standing too long in front of the shelves at Tops, or after going through my feed and picking something from there. I really appreciate this because Fave Human is a beer drinker. And I’m not talking a beer drinker because “social norms require butch men to cradle beer bottles despite how awful the contents taste”. I mean he drinks beer because HE LIKES IT. I know, even I cannot.

Point is, he goes out of his way to make sure my favourite things are there for me. Our last date night was pretty special but began with a pretty annoying dampener for me. I have a dress he has never seen in person, but really likes. Your girl packed this dress and as she was slipping it on, it wouldn’t zip up because your girl gained weight. He jumps in to help because he’s my sidekick like that and proceeds to get the zip up, but it just parts. Now we have to get the dress off. I’m quarter to tears because big girl issues and he’s just like, what are you changing into? Like it wasn’t a thing. I really appreciated his finesse, not dwelling on the thing and making sure we continued to have a good evening. And to be fair, my back-up dress (I’m a Virgo, top shelf perfectionist) was pretty hot too.

He took me to a Café del Sol Botanico, a cute Italian restaurant in Bryanston. I love Italian food, it’s wholesome, generous and made with all the things that made my dress pop. But again, mindful Fave Human coming through!! I was pleased with their wine list which has raaaaaange. From South African staples to Italian imports, you really are spoilt for choice. And this is where the best part of the night happened. Probably because of the extensive wine list, they have a sommelier present to help you make your wine choice. I initially didn’t ask for him because I saw something I liked, within price range (because let’s face it, your pocket does dictate the things). Fave Human had beer. Of course.


Raka Bibliography
Raka Bibliography Shiraz


(This is about the wine but let me just say that the steak was perfect and so the fries.)

The sommelier finally made it to our table after I decided, why not? And that’s when I recognised him. His name is Tawanda Marume and is another exceptional Zimbabwean sommelier based in South Africa. You can read his story here. We got to chatting and I may or may not have oversold how much I love my wine. He disappeared for a bit and came back with a glass of something red and made me guess. To be fair, I’m not a wine expert, I’m an enthusiast (excuses) but I did alright. I sniffed and tasted (I’m not sure how well because at that point I was warm and buzzing) and I guessed a blend or a shiraz because of the spicy notes. I was (of course) wrong.


Spice Route Grenache
My Mid-dinner Exam


What he has given me was the 2016 Spice Route Grenache. The grenache is one of the most cultivated grape varietals in the world and is typically grown in Europe. As with most varietals, it found itself in the Cape and has since wormed its way into the South African market. It is still not grown on a large scale it  used mostly for blending (see, I wasn’t too far off) and is often blended with other cultivars e.g. shiraz and cinsaut. It’s beautiful deep red colour and hits your nose with a fruity scent with some spice – because Spice Route. If you like shiraz and/other big bodied wines, you’ll enjoy this and any blend it contributes to.


SR Grenache
My first Grenache


If I only get to take one thing away from meeting Tawanda and something he passed on to Fave Human, it’s that he feels pretty much the same way I do about wine drinking – drink what you like, the way you like. It’s easy to get caught up in what the tasting notes say and how the experts encourage consumption. So, when an expert encourages authenticity and individuality when it comes to a wine experience, who am I to disagree?


Red Wine Loving


One thing about being a foreigner in South Africa, in many spaces, is that when you meet a fellow traveler, that feeling of finding a piece of home in another is profound. You feel immense pride for their accomplishments  as though they were your own. You wish them all the success in the world and you know they wish the same for you. I’m glad to have met Tawanada and can’t wait for our paths to cross again one day.

The Empress




NB. Tawanda is a sommelier cum wine consultant who services a number of restaurants across Gauteng, South Africa. Find him on Twitter and Instagram and at Expression Wines Africa.


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