At Under the Influence we are passionate about wine education and hospitality education, so much so that we have worked very hard with the team from Beverageintelligence to train over 20 000 staff in Africa on our courses. Each learner at a property enrolls in the Beverageintelligence Wine101 course, and then top performers enter our Wine Advisor program, with further training, and access to our online courses. One of the further training elements, is our Cape Wine Advisor course where we invite the best of the best from our clients to join us on an intensive 7 day course. One of our stars, Reese from Abu Camp in Botswana, spent some time with her team recently, coaching them from what she had learnt, and we caught up with her.
What is your first memory of wine, what captivated you?
I have loved wine since the day I started working as a bartender. Some of the Guests would ask me questions and I did not know the answer to them. This made me get on the courses to learn more about it and that’s where my interest grew further. I also tried to go on to google and find the winery to get more information on a particular wine.
How did you decide that you wanted to become a wine advisor?
After guests asked me questions when I was presenting the wines and I realised I could not answer them straight away- I just knew I need to learn more and wanted to know more so that I could answer them immediately.
What is your favourite wine to pair with a beautiful lunch at Abu?
My favourite wine for lunch is the Iona Sauvignon Blanc.
What is the ultimate wine experience that you have created for Guests at Abu?
I love teaching our guests about South African wines, I have also done some wine tastings with the guest which they really enjoy.
Any tips for wine advisors and waiters on how to break the ice with Guests, maybe during the first time you meet them?
I always tell advise my team to tell the guest that we have a good selection of some of the top wines available in South Africa. Some guests are very happy about this because it would sometimes be the first time they have tried a South African wine. This will sometimes be the start of a great conversation about the wines and you can tell them as much as you can about them. Very often a guest would want to know about the grape that is only found in South Africa and this is a great way to start a conversation and explain more about the Pinotage grape.
What is your all-time favourite wine from South Africa?
Bouchard Finlayson Tete de Cuvée
What is the greatest piece of advice you could give someone looking to become a wine advisor or sommelier?
For you to do something you have to love it. They are suppose to love wines and wanting to know more about it. Because with love everything is possible.
Well done Reese!