On Monday the 9th of May 2016 the WOSA Somm Cup round for The Netherlands took place in Amsterdam. The third place went to the enthusiastic sommelier Ruben Kwakman. We chatted to Ruben to find out more about his pleasure in working as a welcoming host – sharing his love for beautiful products and of course how he experiences South Africa.
Name: Ruben Kwakman
Working for: Restaurant Le VIN’x in Den Bosch.
Has worked for: Restaurant Parkheuvel** (Rotterdam; 2 Michelin stars), Restaurant Cordial* (Oss; 1 Michelin star), Restaurant De Bokkedoorns** (Overveen; 2 Michelin stars)
WOSA: What is so great about being a sommelier?
Ruben: The combination of being a host and the specialism of the most beautiful product there is: wine. But I must say, I also adore coffee, tea, cigars, spirits, cocktails and waters.
WOSA: Do you see being a sommelier as your long term profession?
Ruben: Definitely, I can’t think of anything else that is nicer than working with food and drinks all day.
WOSA: Have you ever been to South Africa?
Ruben: Yes! Last September, on the occasion of winning the Dutch Championships of Sommeliers.
WOSA: What springs to mind immediately when you think of South Africa?
Ruben: Just an awesome country, beautiful and so cool!
WOSA: What are the most interesting cultivars and regions at the moment in South Africa, according to you?
Ruben: Swartland remains very interesting, but I also like Hemel-en-Aarde and new exciting places like Malgas. When it comes to cultivars: Chenin and Syrah. But I think we are going to be seeing lots more of Cinsault and Roussanne, great prospects!
WOSA: Which South African wines do you work with?
Ruben: At the moment we are serving Scali Sirkel Pinotage 2013 by the glass and also Lammershoek The Underwater Wine 2012. Available by the bottle we now have about 10 to 15 wines, about 10% of our wine list is South African. That is quite a nice percentage;-)
WOSA: How do you get to know new South African Wines, were do you get inspiration?
Ruben: My trip to South Africa has brought me so much, you can’t beat going there. Apart from that, I just keep on tasting, reading, discovering.
WOSA: What is your opinion on pairing South African wines with food? How do they compare to other wines from the Southern Hemisphere?
Ruben: As long as a wine has enough elegance and finesse to go with our cuisine, I really don’t care where it comes from.
WOSA: What is your opinion on the availability of good information in Dutch on South African wines?
Ruben: Whenever I am looking for information, I usually go to the website of WOSA Netherlands (www.wosa.nl). But otherwise I end up on websites in English.
WOSA: What was the most difficult question of the test?
Ruben: I forgot that one, that’s why I only came in third;-)