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Penny Noire’s Shares 5 Quick Tips on Cooking with Wine

We get to know Penny Setti, sommelier and owner of Cape Town wine bar Penny Noire. She talks all things wine and what it means to be a woman in the business, and gives five quick tips on how to cook with wine:

What budget-friendly wines would you recommend cooking with? 
Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs is both fun to have a glass while cooking and to cook with. If I want to drink the wine, then I will cook with it. It makes a difference in your end product. For example, if you are steaming mussels in white wine. 

What are the most important things to consider when pairing wine with food? 
It’s important to focus on how you prepare your protein, the sauce and the flavour your food will have. For example, A pepper-crusted tuna will pair well with a Syrah, as the spicy peppercorns will complement the wine. 



Can you give 5 quick tips on how to incorporate wine into your cooking? 

  1. Use wine as a marinade base.
  2. Braise food (like a whole chicken) with wine.
  3. Wine can be used to deglaze after roasting.
  4. It’s perfect to make either a reduction or gravy.
  5. Some sweet wines are great to have poured over ice cream as dessert.

You opened your wine bar Penny Noire in 2022. What has been the absolute  highlight of running
a wine bar?  

The biggest highlight was and is showcasing the amazing wines and talents we have in this part of the world. I have a curious mind, so I love to use the bar as my playground to explore that.   



What has been the most difficult part of being a woman stepping into the world of wine?  
The hardest part is proving one’s worth, but it is like that with most things in life. It has been an absolute joy to see more and more women over the past eight years being recognised in the wine industry. We have each other to lean on, and we can concentrate on the fun side of something we love doing.  

What advice can you give other future female sommeliers?  `
Don’t limit yourself to what you “can” and “can’t” do. You can only find out how high the ceiling is if you reach for it. It’s tough and the hours are long, but if you love what you do, the rewards trump it all.     

Get to know Penny: This or that   

Beach vacay or safari getaway? 
Safari getaway, for sure. 

White wine or red wine? 
I lean more towards white wine.  

A night out or a night in?  
I love a night in!  

City life or country queen?
Definitely the buzzing city life  

Glass half full or glass half empty? 
Umm … both. It depends on the situation. 

Fine dining or comfort food at home? 
Comfort food!  

Fruity or woody notes?  
I prefer fruity notes. 

Stemmed or stemless wine glasses? 
Stem, please!  

Photographs: Supplied

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