Interview With A Sommelier – Kudakwashe Elite Kashiri
7th November 2023
The World of Wine is beautifully showcased by an army of talented Sommeliers, who help the consumer discover their next favourite bottle, understand the different regions and pair a delicious meal with the right Glass of Bubbly.
In this feature, I speak with a man who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Kudakwashe Elite Kashiri, let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“Well, I go by the name Kudakwashe Elite Kashiri, but I use Elite mostly, as most people especially in my working space cannot properly pronounce my first name. I was born in Zimbabwe, in a small town called Victoria Falls, commonly known for having the 7th wonder of the world – “The Mighty Victoria Falls”, I’m sure you’ve heard of the place so many times. I am aged 26, a first born in a family of 5 and my parents are Pastors. Growing up in a family were alcohol was forbidden due to religious beliefs, I had never tasted wine my entire life until I was around 24 (without my parents’ knowledge by the way), and the only wines I was exposed to were South African since European wines are rare and expensive to purchase.”
What Inspired You To Become A Sommelier?
“My interest for wine developed when I was working at a small restaurant back home called Zambezi House, unfortunately, closed down during the Covid-19 era. This all began after I came across a wine that was part of our wine list branded ‘Kumusha Wines’. The name of the wine caught my attention cause it was a shona term, which is my local language, and that was so shocking for me cause Zimbabweans are not known for wines. I got so curious and made a further research about the wine, until I knew the owner, whose name is Tinashe Nyamudoka. I had to try by all means to get in contact with him, and fortunately I managed to get access to him via Instagram. I sent him a direct message, doubting if he was going to reply, but to my surprise, he quickly responded and I introduced myself told him how I got to know about him, explained my story and we started talking. He went into detail explaining his journey as a sommelier up until he became a well known winemaker. I was so inspired by his story, and I felt very much limitless cause all along, I thought wines were for people of a certain calibre , mostly Europeans. From that point, I took Tinashe as my distant mentor and whenever I need help and guidance as far as wines are concerned, he is the man I look up to. Funny enough, we haven’t met in person up to now.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learnt?
“During my time as a Sommelier, I’ve learnt that wine communicates, it’s not just an ordinary alcoholic beverage, it’s something that can create or bring back a flush back of memories. This is how I even master different wine profiles for my blind tasting. There are wines that when I taste them, they give me aromas of local fruits that I last ate years ago when I was still growing up, for example the Sauvignon Gris, it has so much aromas of a particular fruit called the Baobab Fruit that I usually ate a lot back home and also most of the Cabernet Sauvignons and Cab Francs, they take me back to the old days when we would walk in the deep forest looking for a very rare fruit called The Monkey Fingers, in my local language known as ‘uMkojombo’. That on it’s own, made me realize – wine really communicates.”
How Often Do You Find Yourself Recommending English Sparkling Wine?
“I usually recommend English Sparkling Wines when I meet especially guests from France or any other European nationality and want to try something new, something away from home that is not Champagne or Prosecco. In most cases, for sundowners, that’s the sparkling wine I talk about mostly, and also when they are having some sea food like Shrimp and shellfish, smoked salmon, caviar, fried calamari, and oysters, English Sparkling Wine takes the trophy.”
In Your Professional Opinion, Out Of Champagne And Prosecco, Which Do You Think Does A Better Job With Complementing A Meal?
“That’s a bit tricky, but usually in such cases, I find Champagne pairing more perfectly with any French cheese related meal especially when it’s Brie cheese. It’s mild flavor and texture complements the delicate bubbles and fruity notes of Champagne. On the other hand, I love Prosecco as an aperitif or after dinner. It kind of leaves a nice, slight sweet after taste that is more like similar to a dessert and for food pairing, depending on the Prosecco in picture, it is a good pair for rich creamy desserts like the Crème’ Brulee or Cheesecakes, mostly high acidity brut and dry prosecco.”
What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?
“My advise I would give to inspiring Sommeliers is passion, knowledge and hard work is the secret. You need to love what you do before anything else, then the rest will be easy.”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“My all time best sparkling wine and food pairing combination is any pasta, risotto with creamy sauce especially mushroom sauce or some sea food, lobster to be specific. That would be definitely my choice on the table :).”
Thank you, Elite, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Kudakwashe Elite Kashiri. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.