Meet Tendai Marisa

Masterful wine pairings

Delaire Graff Restaurant is a year-round culinary destination in the Cape Winelands. Savour impeccably plated, creative bistro favourites with a South African touch paired with peerless wines in a breathtakingly beautiful setting.

We sat down with Tendai Marisa, the Sommelier at Delaire Graff Restaurant, who shared with us his favourite food and wine pairings and the inspiration behind it all.

Tendai-Marisa-Delaire-Graff-Restaurant-Sommelier

Meet Tendai Marisa, Sommelier at Delaire Graff Restaurant

What made you decide on a career in wine?

I chose the wine industry because I consider it both exciting and challenging. Wine is rich in history and culture, embodies the importance of agriculture, and allows people to connect. It’s a fascinating industry to be part of.

What is being Sommelier really about?

A Sommelier should be multi-skilled – it’s more than pouring. They must be part of the whole service in the restaurant and set the atmosphere, guide the focus, and work closely with both the service manager and head chef to find, pair and shape the menu for a perfectly balanced, harmonious dining experience.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a Sommelier?

Until I started working in the hospitality industry, the only thing I knew about wine was that there was white and then there was red. And – I didn’t think I liked either of them. My first real opportunity to experience wine was in 2015 when I was employed at Delaire Graff Estate as a waiter at Indochine Restaurant. I was a complete novice at wine service and struggled to open wine bottles with corks and talk about the varietals. But, I was eager to learn and always asked my colleagues for help (on busy service days, this meant my tables had to wait a little longer to receive their wine, and I am grateful for their patience!). This drove me to study the basics of wine to make myself a better waiter for my guests. In 2017, I took Introduction to Wines of South Africa, Level One with Cape Wine Academy, a course designed for novice wine enthusiasts. We began with: ‘What is wine and how is it made?’. The answers for those two questions began my journey to becoming a certified WSET Level 3 Sommelier.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of working at Delaire Graff Estate and the growth I have had here. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, where every day I meet different people from all over the globe. Each day is an occasion. People dress up in beautiful clothes and drive beautiful cars, coming for lunch and dinner. I am proud to be part of their experience.

What is your current wine obsession?

I’m obsessed with Delaire Graff Rosé. Made of Cabernet Franc, the flavour, colour and texture is all consuming. The perfect example of a South African rosé. 

What will you be drinking this summer?

I will be enjoying 2021 Delaire Graff Rosé. A crisp dry wine, with a lot of strawberries flavours, it is incredibly versatile and can take me from a picnic to the dinner table with ease.

What is the best food and wine pairing you have ever had?

I was at Aubergine Restaurant in Cape Town. Chef Harold prepared a dish of Chokka Calamari served with squid ink risotto, tomato compote and basil. It was paired with Mosi Flavian 2017 Syrah and was am unforgettable experience as my first red wine and seafood pairing. 

Any new exciting trends in wine we should know about?

Organic and Biodynamic, or even natural wines, are becoming more mainstream. This follows the trend for more people wanting to know more about what they are consuming and where it comes from.

Delaire Graff Restaurant Sommelier

When are you happiest at work?

When we welcome back guests. I love to see people returning and knowing that I played a small part in making their experience worth repeating. 

Which is your favourite food and wine pairing on the menu right now?

The Belnori Chevin served with garden beets, fennel chutney and walnuts pairs with the Delaire Graff Rosé. The flavours of beetroot complement the flavours of strawberries and cassis whilst the acidity cuts through the creaminess of the goat’s cheese. A perfect pairing for spring. 

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