While wine has been associated with food and culture for thousands of years, the past decade has seen a growing appreciation of the drink in Rwanda.
Kigali Marriott Hotel recently hosted an exclusive wine tasting event at its Italian restaurant, Cucina, where people sampled some of its finest international vintages that were showcased by visiting French sommeliers.
Located at KN 3 Avenue in the CBD, Kigali Marriott Hotel is a five star hotel. The walls of the hallway into the Cucina restaurant are designed with stacked terracotta triangles and wine bottles.
After an introductory speech, the sommeliers led us to a display room with various wine regions, from French to Chilean, were showcased.
As this was an informal tasting, it did not involve multiple identical glasses comparing similar wines. The first wine I tried was a sparkling 2016 Brut Champagne from the Prince Laurent winery in the Marne terroir of France.
The champagne is made from pinot Meniere, chardonnay and pinot noir grape varieties. It was served in a tall, narrow champagne flute to promote its appearance and bubble retention. The clinking of glasses ensued and we proceeded to swirl, smell and sip.
The pale gold bubbly was bone dry and fresh. It had a plenty of fizz and effervescence in the mouth with aromas of ripe fruits. It also had a well-balanced acidity with a lingering creamy finish.
I decided to try a red wine, a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Casa De Campo winery. This Cabernet Sauvignon is a New World wine from Valle Central terroir in Chile. It was served in a bulbous Burgundy glass with large headspace so that the wine could be fully aerated when swirled.
The Cabernet Sauvignon had a dark ruby colour, and was characterised by its ripe fruity flavour. It had a pleasant aroma, and balanced acidity on the mouth and medium sweetness. It was an easy drink, ideal for everyday wine.
The event was an overall success and the restaurant plans to hold more tastings to grow the country's wine culture. This will also serve as a platform for the growth of viniculture, to link suppliers with growers and to learn about wines.