Wine runs in my veins and in my family. I am surrounded by wine snobs, fiends, lovers, and drinkers. When I met David Rothschild during one of the afterparties at Pure and asked him whether he belonged to THE Rothschilds (as in the ones on the wine labels), he said yes, those were his drunk cousins. I instantly felt a connection to him besides him being obviously very charming – I had drunk cousins too! One is even working on a vineyard in her garden and while its harvest will be strictly limited to family members only, I don’t think that will do, because I know that my number of drunk cousins beats David’s number of drunk cousins.
Needless to say I was ridiculously excited to find a winery visit on my itinerary when I went to El Gouna. I had not hoped for any wine in Egypt and now I was going to do wine tasting? Yeah for me.
Meeting Labib and his wife, who run Kouroum of the Nile winery, was like watching a TV show because both of them are lovely, knowledgable, and extremely entertaining as only loving, long married couples can be. They have made it their mission to put Egyptian wine back on the map where it belonged for over thousands of years. Like all great things wine was big business in ancient Egypt but the art was lost over the centuries and now the options are, well let’s just say…not so great. Until now. With Labib’s expertise, French education, some good old Egyptian sun, and a sprinkle of water once in a while wine is becoming a serious business in El Gouna. Grapes are local like Bannati and imported like Shiraz, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, and Viognier and are grown in three different areas in Egypt. The little vineyard you see in front of the cellars is just for decoration, the soil is not quite right here.
Inside it looks like any other wine cellar: steel tanks, bottles, crates, and to my utter delight some cube like contraptions that hold, up side down as it should be, Champagne bottles. While they are of course not allowed to be called such, the sparking wine is done méthode champenoise and is, as it turns out during our tasting, really wonderful.
The other wines follow suit and in no time we are all nice and tipsy. I am happy to learn that Egypt is much like South Africa when it comes to wine tasting and spitting is frowned upon. Labib declares that five o’clock is almost after work and joins us to sample the fruits of his labour.
As their Beausoleil has won international awards I am keen to buy some bottles for the biggest wine
snobs lovers I know, my dad and my brother, and put them to the test. Unfortunately export from Egypt is still difficult and there are only few select places who sell Kouroum of the Nile wines internationally. I recommend you head to the local bottle shop Cheers while in El Gouna and then pray to the Duffle Bag Gods that your parcel will arrive unharmed. When it does I recommend you open them over a nice meal, share with family, enjoy drinking like an Egyptian, and feel like Cleopatra*
*My aunt is convinced that she was Cleopatra in a former life and will repeat this story frequently if the topic arises.