Why Moroccan Wines Are No Longer ‘Off The Beaten Path’
Aug 31, 2023
When it comes to the great wine producing regions of the world, Morocco is perhaps not the first country that springs to mind. However, this north African country is blessed with ideal weather and terrain for winemaking. Indeed, this fact has long been recognised since the first Phoenician settlers arrived in about 3000 BC.
It is thought there was a well established viticulture in Morocco during the heyday of the Roman Empire. This naturally declined as the native Islamic population tended not to consume alcohol, but during the period of French colonial rule between 1912-1956, the wine industry was revived and the country became a major wine exporter.
Since the 1990s, the north African region has enjoyed a wine producing renaissance, and it is now possible to buy Moroccan wine of very high quality. The country benefits from fertile land that is ideal for vineyards, and a warm climate that is tempered by the cooler high mountains and Atlantic breeze.
There are five distinct wine regions in Morocco, namely the East; the Meknès/Fes region; the Northern Plain; the Rabat/Casablanca region; and the El-Jadida region. Some 30,000 acres of vineyards are thought to exist in the country, which produces wine for the thriving tourist trade and for export.
The country is best known for red wines, although it also produces some excellent rosé wines. Among the most popular red grape varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Syrah. White grape varieties are less common, although some regions produce Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Vermentino, and Clairette.
Wines to try when visiting Morocco
If you will be enjoying a visit to Morocco in the near future, no doubt you will be looking forward to sampling the celebrated local cuisine, famed for its delicious spicy flavours and aromas. Here are some suggestions for the perfect wines to accompany your meal.
Morocco produces high quality red meats, in particular lamb and beef. You will find that these are often prepared with herbs and spices and feature strongly on the menu. Full-bodied red wines with smooth berry and floral flavours such as the Bonassia Cabernet or the Halana Syrah will go very well with meat dishes.
Red wine is the widely produced type of wine in Morocco so you will never be short of choice for affordable but excellent quality reds. It’s well worth researching the local area before you go to see if there are any notable producers to look out for.
Rosé wine is ideal for serving as an aperitif or with fish or white meat dishes. Domaine de la Zouina Gris is made by a French producer, and is characterised by a fresh and zesty aroma. It’s made from a blend of Caladoc, Mourvèdre and Marselan, which gives it a rather distinctive delicate colouring and a crisp fruity flavour.
Whites are less commonly produced in Morocco, but you may find that bigger restaurants will have Cap Blanc or Special Coquillages on the menu, both pleasantly crisp and fresh wines.