By Paidashe Mandivengerei
SOUTH African based Zimbabwean born sommelier, Tongai Dhafana has cried foul over how the government overlooks the wine making industry.
The renowned wine maker encouraged the Ministry of Tourism ministries to emulate their South African counterparts who invest in wine knowledge.
Dhafana told New Zimbabwe.com in an interview that there is little recognition he and those in his industry receive given local hotels still import most of their wines.
“They (sommeliers) are not (recognized), simply because the term is not known. Big hotels like across the country should invest in wine knowledge as they get so many guests from all walks of life,” Dhafana said.
He argued that tourist who come to Zimbabwe are fed foreign wines they would have been used to instead of local hotels serving the guests local beverages.
“Those people of course are exposed to best wines and best service but when they come here they want to try local stuff and some wines too.
“So they expect better services seeing that they will paying reasonable amounts of money. This helps our tourism as they will return and also mention to their friends,” the wine steward said.
Of the 11 certified African sommeliers, Zimbabwe is very privileged to have two (2) and should make use of the available resources according to Dhafana.
Dhafana who is now qualified to teach junior wine makers said he would be glad to assist the tourism sector with mentoring youngsters in the industry.
“I am qualified now to teach junior sommeliers with my latest certification. How lucky we are as Zimbabweans to have two certified people out of the only 11 in Africa.
“Use me, I am here to serve my nation,” he said.
Unlike its southern neighbour, South Africa which has wine academies, Zimbabwe has none and Dhafana attributed to the dire economic situation.
“South Africa is okay as they have so many institutions like Cape Wine Academy and Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). They also have University of Cape Town which also offers judging courses in conjunction with Fridjoen Academy which I have all gone through.
“We need something like that but with our current economy, we cannot afford all that so the best is to use the available resources,” Dhafana told New Zimbbwe.com.
Now one of the region’s best wine stewards, Dhafana owns a wine brand, Mosi Wines and expressed his appreciation for South Africa which he said has been easier to penetrate given most of their restaurants are run by Zimbabweans.