Sommelier Victor Okolo’s must-try food-and-wine pairings


Victor Okolo, the winner of the 2022 Eat Out WCellar Wine Service Award, had been working at Salsify at The Roundhouse in Camps Bay for only eight months when he nabbed the coveted award. We asked the expert: which WCellar wines would he pair with his favourite dishes from the three-star awarded restaurant?

The dish: For starters, Victor has chosen the smoked springbok with porcini, goat’s cheese mousse and puffed sorghum.

The wine: A dish like the springbok tartare – with an interesting combination of smoky, creamy and savoury flavours – needs a wine with intense flavours, refined acidity to break through the tangy texture, and chalky tannins to match the ash character of the porcini. Marras The Trickster Cinsault fits the bill. It shows bright cherries, raspberries and pomegranate on the nose while the palate is a great balance of red and black fruits with undertones of herbal spices, toffee and rose petals on the finish. This wine displays intense flavours yet is still elegant.

The dish: For the second dish, Victor turns to the pan-roasted line fish with toasted milk rice puree, basil and charred spring onion salsa, baked black rice, puffed rice and rice powder, and finished with some spiced lemongrass and coconut cream.

The wine: The Thelema Cool Climate Chardonnay showcases white pears, lime, ginger and naartjie zest on the nose. On the palate is a combination of green and yellow fruits, racy acidity, and an intense honey note on the mid palate, with a long and glorious finish. This wine is perfect for a delicious fish dish that is accompanied by an array of herbaceous elements with an underlined acidity. The acidity in the wine breaks the creaminess of the dish and the luscious fruit character in the wine elevates the rice elements of the dish. This is the perfect match!

The dish: Finally, Victor suggests ending with the hazelnut and bitter chocolate tart with Tonka bean, marshmallow and Laphroaig whiskey ice cream paired, of course, with Laphroaig whiskey.

The drink: Laphroaig whiskey is a unique and interesting pairing. A chocolate dessert accompanied by nutty and creamy elements is definitely a delightful complement to a peaty whiskey like the Laphroaig. With notes of caramel, dried almonds and smoke, this whiskey leaves a lingering taste on your palate, making it perfect for this rich dessert.

Try a food-and-wine pairing at home

The next time you host a dinner party, it’s easy to take inspiration from Victor Okolo’s wine pairing menu thanks to Woolworths WCellar. Woolworths launched standalone WCellar stores in 2021 and have been steadily expanding ever since. The new WCellar stores are the destination for crafted bubbles and wines (including Marras The Trickster Cinsault and Thelema Cool Climate Chardonnay) as well as a wide range of premium spirits, such as Laphroaig whiskey, making it easy to create a restaurant-quality wining-and-dining experience at home. If you need more help with your menu planning, pop into a WCellar store and chat to a wine advisor who can provide tasting notes, pairings and recommendations. And for the planners, drinks can be ordered online or via same-day delivery with DASH in selected stores.

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