When you’re making a bucket list of countries with must-see food and wine scenes, chances are Ethopia isn’t high on your list. Okay, it’s probably not even in the same notebook as your list. The heavily spiced, porridge-like dishes popular in Ethopia are slowly starting to permeate American culture and it’s hard to forget the slightly sour and intriguingly spongy injera bread used to scoop up each dollop of deliciousness, but if you’re talking Ethiopian drinks, you’re definitely chatting about coffee, not wine.
At least you were. As it turns out, Ethiopian wine is neither as new nor as crappy as you might have assumed:
Ethiopia has been producing home-grown wine for years, but it’s generally been of such a poor quality that locals have grown accustomed to drinking it mixed with Coca-Cola. The Rift Valley Winery, which produced its first harvest in 2015, is something a little different though. Owned by French brewery giant, Castel, the Rift Valley Winery has brought the latest wine-producing technology to northeast Africa and the results have so far been encouraging.
If you’re in Ethiopia, you can stop by Castel Winery to taste through the vineyard’s portfolio (it’s heavy on classic varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Chardonnay, but there are a couple sort of “all-purpose” blends available, too), but what about those of us who aren’t headed to Addis Ababa anytime soon? Well, we may be seeing some Ethiopian wines on the shelves of our local liquor stores sooner rather than later.
In their first year of commercial production the winery produced over a million bottles of reds, whites and rosés and over the next few years they plan to export around 50% of this total to the international market. Currently their biggest international customer is the US, because more traditional wine-drinking nations have shown some resistance to trying Ethiopian wine. However, everywhere the wine has ended up, the reviews have been positive. My guide to the winery explained, “In some cases when people hear we are producing wine in Ethiopia they aren’t interested in trying it, but also it can do the opposite and people want to try Ethiopian wine. It can be good for marketing.”
What’s your take on Ethiopian wine? Have you had it? If so, what do you think? And if you haven’t tried it… would you?
The original article is courtest of Stuart Butler and AFK Travel: Eats And Drinks In Addis: Exploring The Food And Wine Scene In Ethiopia’s Capital | AFKInsider