Quality wine production has a fairly lengthy history in Morocco. Whilst many Moroccans do not drink alcohol due to religious prohibitions there is a tolerance to foreigners consuming alcohol and Morocco now produces some excellent wine.
Meknes is the main wine producing region and the majority of Morocco's 30,000 acres of vineyards can be found in this region. Whilst the first wines were probably produced during the Roman era it wasn't until the French arrived that the great Moroccan wine revival really took place. However when the French left in 1956 their skills and taste for wine left Morocco and the industry fell into decline.
However, King Hassan II saw the potential and campaigned to restore interest in Moroccan wine. At the time of his death in 1999 he had persuaded the French to reinvest and the wine regeneration had commenced.
Approximately 75% of the wine is red with the Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot grapes being the most common and the white Moroccan wine grapes are Muscat and Clairette. However, Morocco produces excellent Rosé wine which is now approximately 20% of the 40 million bottles produced annually.
However, Morocco also produces interesting Vin gris. The name is given by its colour that sits in between a white and a rose. It is made from red grapes, in particular pinot noir, a black grape but which can also be used to make rosé or white wine.
There are some truly excellent red, rosé, and gris wines and they vary in price although taxation ensures there are no real bargain wines.
Wine is tolerated and there is an awareness that it is contributing to the tourist industry and the culinary experience that is now on offer to visitors. It is however not usually sold during religious festivals unless purely within a tourist venue.
Riad Al-Bushra Home Page www.riadalbushra.com