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Home » Culinary Travel, Durban, Featured, KwaZulu-Natal, Lifestyle Features, South Africa Travel, Travel Writing, World Travel

A Tale of Three Somms

Submitted by on September 12, 2020 – 6:44 am
Somm Zwai Gumede, left, with Chef’s Table head chef, Mathew Armbruster.
Winston Matthews, sommelier at 9th Avenue Waterside in Durban.

Winston Matthews, Zwai Gumede and Job Jovo are sommeliers. Rare vintages in their profession seems an apt description given that separately, independently and by way of contrasting — if comparably remarkable — career fermentations, all three have found themselves at, yes I will stick my neck out and say: the three top establishments in greater Durban offering fine dining in refined settings with superior wine and spirit pairings.   

Job Jovo is the sommelier at the Oyster Box, Zwai Gumede at Chef’s Table and Winston Matthews at 9th Avenue Waterside. Linked more closely to Corona’s restaurant industry lockdown carnage than to the country’s wine industry prohibition devastation, Gumede may be yet another Covid-19 casualty. 

Job Jovo
Job Jovo, sommelier at Durban’s Oyster Box.

But, hey: Meet these guys. Hear their stories. His story. He has stepped out of his comfort zone too often to be corked by this curve-ball. 

The rock stars of the wine world, sommeliers are sometimes called. So is there something these three guys have in common besides a shared passion for wine, gritty determination and unique expertise in this glamorous line of work? 

Zwai Gumede
Somm Zwai Gumede pre-Covid at Chef’s Table.

Answer: Not one of them, before he was in his 20s, had so much as opened a wine bottle let alone swirled, identified aromas, assessed taste structure, and advised on the pairing of drink with food served up by chefs who are also at the top of their game. Not one grew up knowing there was any such thing as a career in wine, let alone that this was in their future. 

As their journeys unfolded, all three refined their manifestly fine palates, focusing on opportunities and never obstacles. Don’t know about you, but to me there is something magical in all this. Empowering. Affirming. Inspiring. Read my full article WINE ROCK STARS: A Tale of Three Somms in TGIFood in the Daily Maverick.

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