The culture of beer drinking is well established in Zimbabwe and aficionados can choose from a variety of locally brewed brands ranging from Castle, Lion and Zambezi to Chibuku 'Shake Shake', a potent sorghum and maize beverage.
Wine tasters and wine drinkers may be outnumbered by those who favour the grain to the grape, but as our palates become increasingly sophisticated and adventurous, wine festivals and pairings of wine with foods are becoming a popular form of entertainment in Harare.
Among numerous wine tasting groups throughout the country is the Grapevine, led by Aquarius PR's Stan Higgins, aka Dionysus, the god of wine and drunken revelry in Greek mythology, meets regularly to sample both local and imported wines, in a variety of interesting venues. Last Saturday Grapevine connoisseurs met up at Bushman Rock wine estate, situated in the Nyamasanga River Valley, a few kilometres beyond Ruwa, off the Mutare Road.
Although the Zimbabwean climate, with its summer rain and moderately cold winter, is not ideally suited to growing grapes, production at Bushman Rock has more than doubled since 2008. The last four years have been a period of experimentation and adjustment for Australian wine maker Paul Chambers, who was invited to share his expertise with this boutique winery in 2008.
"Summer rains bring disease to the grapes" said Chambers, "but we have learnt to pick the grapes early in the morning, before rain fell."
The vineyards at Bushman Rock produce a great variety of grapes, including cabernet sauvignon, one of the most popular red wine grape varieties, merlot, a darkly blue-coloured wine grape, syrah, a dark-skinned grape used to produce powerful red wines and semillon, a golden-skinned grape used to make sweet white wines.
Next year, chardonnay, a world favourite among white wines, will be produced.
Wine has been made in Europe and along the Mediterranean for a millennia, where the style of wine making is described as Old World. New World wines are more modern and fruity and come from America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In Zimbabwe a distinctive style of wine is emerging, combining Old World philosophy with New World fruitiness.
If you're debating whether to imbibe the grape or the grain, remember that a beer-boep comes with beer drinking, while one or two glasses of red wine a night can prevent diabetes, slow down Alzheimer's disease, stave off heart disease and keep your brain and liver healthy.
While the French may eat high fat foods and exercise less than Americans or Zimbos, the reason for their low rate of heart disease is their affinity for red wine. Going back in time, it is said that Julius Caesar protected his soldiers from gastric infections by ensuring that they drank wine with their meals.
The wedding season is approaching and tourist destinations are already receiving holiday bookings for the festive season. Fortunately, wine production at Bushman Rock is set to increase, in response to the demand for well-made, affordable wine in Zimbabwe.
Lookout for the Bushman Rock label at your local supermarket, or take a drive into the countryside to the cool, dark wine cellars at Bushman Rock, and taste for yourself.