Nash Kanyangarara, sommelier at the esteemed Cape Town restaurant, Salsify based at the historic Roundhouse, chats to us about all things wine. He also shares his journey into the world of wine with us in this exclusive interview…
Nash, being in the industry for a few years now, we would firstly like to congratulate you on building such an incredible reputation for yourself. What does it feel like being regarded as a highly respected sommelier today?
It really has been an amazing experience so far! Looking back to 2007, when the first opportunity to becoming a sommelier in Dubai presented itself, I have come a far way. At first, I felt a slight bit overwhelmed by all the information – it was a lot to take in. However, throughout my journey I realised that every day is a learning opportunity and experience. Ultimately, wine has become such an integral part of my life, so much so that I almost regard it as my “religion”.
When did you really become passionate about wine and what made you decide to pursue wine wholeheartedly?
In 2010 I spent some time in Bordeaux, tasting wines and visiting quite a few world-class Châteaus. Something struck me during my stay at Château Haut Brion. I had the opportunity to chat with some vineyard workers there and we were discussing different vintages, the nature of caring for the vineyards and the role of terroir. It is then that I realized to them wine was a culture, they made me see wine in a whole different realm that so many does not necessarily see. It’s from here that I decided to pursue wine earnestly. To me wine is not a beverage, it’s a way of life.
Soon after I completed my Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), International Sommelier Guild qualification and furthermore my Diploma in Hospitality Management.
Salsify Restaurant, part of the famed Luke Dale-Roberts group, is regarded as one of the country’s premier dining experiences right now. Tell us a bit more about your responsibility & role as sommelier at this highly esteemed brand?
The most exciting part of my job is having the opportunity to work alongside Chef Ryan Cole (former chef at The Test Kitchen), presenting food and wine that are exceptionally delectable. The second thing that stands out to me as sommelier, is of course our wine list. My main focus when selecting wines for Salsify is predominantly boutique, niche wineries – wines that I feel has real heart and soul.
When you dine out, what do you look for on a wine list of a restaurant?
For me, it all depends on personal preference. Being in the industry for a while now, my palate has evolved so much over the past few years. If I look back now, the wines I currently prefer differs so much from the wines that I preferred seven years ago.
How did you come to know of De Toren’s wines?
I came to learn of De Toren’s wines whilst working in Mauritius. It’s actually a funny story, as I used to pursue bets with one of my good friends there, Jaisen Pandhoo, to see who could sell the most De Toren wine. It’s from there that I loved the wines so dearly.
We are honoured to have our wines listed at Salsify Restaurant. Which De Toren wine is your favourite & what on your menu does it pair perfectly well with?
My personal favourite is the renowned De Toren Fusion V 2004 vintage specifically. I would love to pair this wine with our charred beef fillet, served with Jerusalem artichoke and American oak jus.
Any wise words to promising sommeliers and aficionados?
Don’t let anyone stop you from dreaming big. If it was within someone else’s reach, it’s also in yours.
It seems your career is going from strength to strength, so where to next for you as esteemed SA sommelier?
I am a traveller. So I will let wine lead me to and go wherever it may take me.
Nash, thank you for chatting to us and we wish you all the best with your future endeavours and travels.