Living in Kenya, we all know that awkward moment when the waiter arrives with one of those stubby wine glasses with the too-yellow liquid inside, purported to be the white wine you just ordered: the house white, apparently. From the look of things, it was extracted from a box belonging to a very cheap brand and stashed behind the bar for many months until the contents became slightly rancid. That’s that awkward moment when you realize that you’re at a (very) local bar. I know, I know…what did I expect for the Ksh 250 per glass listed in the plastic-covered menu? A glass of extra chilled Pavillion Blanc from the Boschendal Estate, served in a long stem glass?
I’ve always wondered why quality wine is so undervalued at local pubs. Beer and whisky obviously win out as the local man’s poison of choice, but isn’t there a discerning customer every now and then that requires the neighborhood joint to serve a wine that you can actually enjoy? Going by the laws of supply and demand, do some people actually like their glass of cheap boxed wine so much that they order another?
The older I get, the more I demand of my drinking experience. That first beverage you order when you walk into an establishment really does set the tone for your entire experience at that place. When the drinks just don’t taste or look right, it ruins everything! The taste of that crisp liquid in a clear dewy glass ignites the kind of inner joy you will (alas!) never find at a local Kenyan bar.
How to spot a bar that will serve you dodgy wine:
1) There is a carwash in the parking lot.
2) The overpowering scent of nyama choma fills the air.
3) There is no one to seat you, to each his own.
4) The first thing the staff do when you sit down is wipe down the table.
5) The menus are plastic.
6) The waiter calls wine “sweet wine” instead of just “wine”. (There is no wine list, obviously)
7) When you complain that the wine is off, the waiter offers you beer.