Food / Science / Sudan

Wine Making in Sudan: Better Living Through Chemistry

For those of you who know me, my luxurious mop of dark hair in this photo will let you know that it was taken some years ago. In fact, it was shot in the kitchen of our house in Khartoum, Sudan in the mid 80’s (OMG was it really that long ago?).

In this picture, I am actively and willingly breaking a serious Sudanese law … making and consuming alcohol. The people of Sudan are Muslims, and the country lives under Sharia Law. For those of you who don’t know (and why would you?), Sharia is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Alcohol is strictly prohibited in the Quran, and consequently, is illegal in countries that live under Sharia Law.

People have been making wine for 8,000 years, and the process has remained essentially unchanged. Extract the juice from grapes, throw in some yeast, keep the container closed while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape, and voila, you have wine.

Our friends Carroll and Gerry helped us assemble the necessary gear, gave us a few tips, and suddenly, we were winemakers. You’ll note I didn’t say GOOD winemakers, but our Sudan Rouge was drinkable, packed a punch, and was a fun diversion in a harsh and sometimes dangerous place.

We learned lots of life lessons in our two years in Sudan. The lesson here was that if you make your own wine, never again will you take for granted strolling into the local store and picking up a delicious Chardonnay.

Happy Trails,
James

2 thoughts on “Wine Making in Sudan: Better Living Through Chemistry

    • Tricia, if you’d had a snort of the ol’ Sudan Rouge, you’d know immediately that you’re giving us waaaayyy too much credit. It was pretty strong and rough stuff, but as I always say, “Any port in a storm.” And given the Sahara Desert, grapes were pretty scarce in Khartoum. We used bottled grape juice which was imported from Greece (only available through the company commissary). We had no idea of the alcohol content, but after a few months without a drink, my palate wasn’t so discriminating. ~James

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