The Robertson Small Hotel's Sophisticated Sangria.
The Robertson Small Hotel's Sophisticated Sangria.
Expect exceptional service from sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn.
Expect exceptional service from sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn.

Cape Town - While Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch are our number one attractions, good food and wine are also important Western Cape drawcards, with an increasing number of overseas and upcountry travellers sampling our wine and food in local restaurants in stunning settings.

Those who are paying considerable amounts for both expect good service as well, and this is where the Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award comes in. Established to recognise excellence in outstanding professional wine waiters, the trophy also aims to inspire those servers to aim for the top.

The winner of the 2012 award is Wayve Kolevsohn, who took home the Riedel Glass Trophy and will soon be going to France, where she will visit the House of Bollinger Champagne. Wayve, who was the runner-up in last year’s competition, has joined The Test Kitchen as sommelier, a fitting destination for someone who has proved to be among the best in the country.

Born and bred in Hout Bay, Wayve studied hospitality management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, went to the UK for practical experience in top Michelin-starred restaurants, and then returned to Cape Town to complete a post-graduate degree in management. She worked at Le Quartier Francais and the Roundhouse restaurant in Camps Bay as sommelier while studying through the International Wine and Spirit Education Trust to complete the advanced-level courses. She has been inducted as a Cape Sommelier by the Cape Wine Academy.

Last month, the four finalists sat a written exam, which followed a blind tasting held earlier. Their last practical assignment involved positioning glassware for a six-course meal, selecting dishes to match a range of wines, and serving and describing one of the wines. The final task given to the four was describing two red wines. This may sound easy, but it was something of a trick question. When one considers that the two were the same wine, one being slightly tainted, it becomes clear an impressive level of skill was required to succeed.

Cocktails to celebrate long summer evenings

Fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Wine, bubbly and liqueurs. Spirits, both local and imported. Fruit juices, flowers, cream, coconut and chocolate. The many and varied ingredients that are stirred, shaken, whizzed and crushed into contemporary cocktails is nothing short of mind-boggling, while the frosting, floating and garnishing that follow are equally impressive steps.

These cocktails from the country are as smart as any urban concoctions – and, what’s more, they are all paired with carefully chosen bites. As well as enhancing pleasurable sipping and swallowing, they have the practical role of providing food to anchor what are often highly alcoholic sundowners.

At The Robertson Small Hotel, a five-star boutique hostelry in that pretty town fringed with jacarandas, the staff have created six cocktails to celebrate those long summer evenings, served on Wednesday evenings only, each accompanied by its own signature canapé.

There is one final cocktail – “The Mockingbird”. This is a “mocktail” for designated drivers and teetotallers that includes watermelon.

The Sunsational Signature sundowners and their partnering appetisers will continue to titillate taste buds until the end of February. - Weekend Argus