You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy a good glass of wine, argues Katy Fentress, who is happy to have passed the responsibility of curating this month’s wine section to someone unarguably more qualified than her.
A little bit about me: while I am, to all intents and purposes, American by birth, I was brought up in Italy and spent every summer of my life at the bottom of a green little valley lost in the hills of the Chianti wine region. Growing up, wine was something that over the course of the long hot season would be consumed by thirsty guests in monumental quantities; so much so, that buying the stuff in bottles simply did not make economic sense. Instead, every few days, my parents (and later me), would drive up to our local farmer, step into his small and damp cellar and fill up a jerrycan’s worth of anything from 10 to 50 litres of garnet-coloured red wine which gushed out of the fibreglass tank with such vigour, it would leave a good head of foam at the top of our container. This was no fine wine, mind you, and costing little more than 50 bob a litre (yes, you read that right, that would be 1,000 now-defunct Italian liras, roughly the equivalent of 0.50€ today) it did the trick and kept everyone happy.
Unfortunately, thanks to stringent health and safety laws imposed by the European Union and the fact that the farmer probably wasn’t paying taxes on the wine he sold us, by 2010 this practice was clamped down on and we had to instead get our bulk wine in the more legal but certainly less romantic, wine bag-in-boxes available from registered cantinas (wine cellars) in the area.
All this to say that while I may have grown up in one of the most famous wine areas of the world, and can at this point probably tell a Merlot from a Pinot Noir, I am no wine expert and don’t think I ever will be. Which is why it was so nice to be able to pass over the responsibility of curating this year’s Yummy Wine section to Josiah Kahiu who, fresh from a year studying wine business and oenology in Florence, Italy, is far more qualified to wax lyrical about the stuff than I am.
For our third annual wine issue, Iloti Mutoka visited Leleshwa, our favourite Kenyan winery, to celebrate its chief winemaker and oenologist Emma Nderitu whose career, since we last saw her in 2015, has come along in leaps and bounds. Josiah Kahiu interviews the owner of Pharley’s Wine Club Tim Challen and is excited to find that Kenyans are loving the idea of taking part in a monthly wine club and we conducted a long phone call with the Italian oenologist Stefano Marinari, to find out more about the effects of global warming on wine production today and what can be done to mitigate them. Think wine drinking is just for old people? Think again argues Kahiu, who in his feature on the drinking habits of his millennial peers, shows how social media is feeding a whole new wine revolution that is doing great things for the industry.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Susan Wong is lucky to get a table at the super popular Mercado restaurant and comes back altogether happy with the experience, we got Chef Dario Aloisio to prepare us a special meal for our Sicilian Table recipe section, Karanja Nzisa can’t get a delicious meal he had in the holy city of Jerusalem out of his mind and David Cecil describes how a magical Rasta caterer turned the vegetarian food on his film shoot from bland and depressing to delicious and invigorating.
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading the magazine as much as we did producing it and that at the least, it will inspire you out of your comfort zone to go and try a new wine from the delightful selection that Kahiu hand-picked and vetted especially for you.