Who knew wine is made in Ethiopia? My wife and I discovered this fun fact while flying from Toronto to the country’s capital of Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines.
Our final destination was not this country in the horn of Africa, but another flight onward to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean for some sailing.
However, we made the most of our time on Ethiopian Airlines (13 hours from Toronto to Addis Ababa) by lounging, eating, drinking and sleeping in the lie-flat seats of business class.
There was real French Lallier Champagne, of course, as well as some other French and South African red and white wine choices.
But, what caught our eye, and our palate, was the Chardonnay and Merlot from Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Winery.
The Rift is a lush high-altitude valley where the eastern African cooler climate and sandy soil is perfect for growing grapes.
The predominant varieties grown are the classic French Chardonnay and Merlot because the winemakers are from the French conglomerate Castel.
The Chard, an unoaked version with hints of honey, peach and apricot, went well with the Ethiopian chicken curry stew and injera bread. The full-bodied, plummy Merlot was served with the cheese course.
Steve MacNaull is The Okanagan Weekend’s business and wine reporter and columnist. Reach him at [email protected]