Pearl Oliver had always wanted to be a doctor. Despite her interest in medicine, life had other plans. While waitressing at Catharina’s restaurant in Cape Town, Pearl’s manager handed her a glass of Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve. She took a sip – and the rest is history. Now a sommelier at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel’s Planet Restaurant, and in her 10th year of studying the world of wine, she shares some of her knowledge.
Q. What’s great about the SA wine industry?
A. The diversity. It’s phenomenal how many people from different backgrounds this industry brings together.
Q. What local wines should we be drinking?
A. We are spoilt with the spectacular wines being made in the Western Cape. It’s not easy to single out specific vineyards, as there are so many producing outstanding wines. Stellenbosch deserves special mention, though. I have met people who travel to SA just to taste the wines from our Stellies vineyards.
Q. What do you eat and drink at home?
A. I love cheese, but I’ve had to cut back a bit in an effort to slim down for summer. I cook pondu (cassava leaves) and lamb chops from my dear love Paul’s homeland, the DRC. We drink lots of Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cab-blends.
Q. Tips for the aspiring wine connoisseur?
A. Never stop reading or researching, and make time to sit down and drink wine. It’s the best way to learn.
Q. And finally, good wine is…
A. A lifestyle, to be shared with friends, family and, perhaps, an interesting stranger.