Mr. Tawanda Marume – Zimbabwe / South Africa – Wine Educator/Private Sommelier (Interview No. 192)

May 19, 2024

Name: Mr. Tawanda Marume –

Tawanda Marume - Zeitgeist Sommeliers

Nationality: Zimbabwean –

At the moment: South Africa –

Director: Expression Wines Africa –

Vice Chairman of the Sommeliers Association of South Africa: CLICK


Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry. Did you have any particular mentors? 

I was at a graduation party in Stellenbosch South Africa. I went with a friend of mine and when we got there were several glasses of white wine already poured. We both picked a glass, the one I picked was a light colour I assume it may have been a dry Sauvignon Blanc, but it was not nice. After that experience, I set out to study a little more about wine to understand the industry. I had Sue Proudfoot when I worked at Wine Concepts on Kloof and Francois Rautenbach

What specific traits or skills should a Sommelier(e) possess for professional performance and is there any person with those qualities you especially admire within the wine industry?

A Sommelier should be passionate about service, creating memorable experiences for their guests, and not glorifying themselves. Francois Rautenbach is one of the sommeliers I admire and also Greg Sherwood MW, his tasting notes are awe-inspiring.

What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e)? How to find a good position at home or abroad? Any further tips?

Always taste wine and never stop learning, learning can be from other sommeliers or guests dining with you. Competitions are also very important and as a Sommelier, you should compete in every competition you can, it sharpens your skills.

In finding a position it is important to look for establishments that have growth potential internally. That was you can be a gateway to bring forth waiters to junior sommelier level. A good wine program is also essential, as a sommelier you never stop learning and a good evolving wine program will help a great deal.


When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what, in your opinion, would be the best approach?

I think it’s important to first ask their preferred style of wine; red, white, rose, or sparkling wine, secondly, what they are in the mood for and lastly if they have made a choice on what they would like to eat.

What is your philosophy about glasses? Are you working with well-known brands or are you considering new brands as well?  How do you decide?

A glass is an important part of a memorable wine experience. The design of the glass if chosen perfectly enhances a wine to a great degree. I do not enjoy using stemless glasses. I work with Crystallex, Spieglau and Riedel glasses. The price point of glasses and wines being poured. The level of training of staff is also a consideration.  

What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?

Consider 4 elements, weight, body, flavour, and varietals. The weight of the dish should be matched with the body of the wine; light with light, rich with full-bodied. The next important thing is to match the main flavour component in the dish with a wine of similar flavours. When the main flavour component changes, so does the wine.

Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?

If allowed by the guest. Should the wine be faulty, it may be a case of the sommelier being able to identify faults better than the guest therefore saving them from drinking a faulty wine.

Wine list:

What are the key ingredients for creating a wine list for a restaurant and what is your opinion on pricing wine in restaurants, do you have tips on how to determine markups?

Understanding the customer demographic in your market is important for the style of wines and prices of wines to go on a wine list. While mark-ups vary I feel they should be within a reasonable point that will not make the wine appear overpriced. Overpriced wines can be out of reach of many guests thereby short-changing themselves and the producer. There are several formulas considered but I usually use 200% markup on wines under a certain lower price point and 100% on wines over a certain high price point.

How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?

Reading daily news alerts from various wine-related publications. Reading magazines and attending wine shows and trade tastings.

How would a new vineyard get its wine noticed and what is the best way for producers to improve their chances of being listed?

They need to do a lot of wine tastings, promotions, and sit-down tastings with both sommeliers and private clients. Brand positioning is important for the target market. Listing in surrounding retail stores also increases the chances of visibility on a wine list, and helps create demand.

Favourite pick:

If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?

Chenin Blanc, it is versatile, easy to work with in the vineyard, and can be found in various wine styles.

Which top 3 types of wine (your faves would we find in your home wine collection and what’s your desert island wine?

White wine, red wine, and sparkling wine. My desert island wine would be a Chablis.

Thank you Tawanda

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