A Gin Drinker Attends a Wine-Tasting Event: Report

By The Kenyan Bar Guy

Published on 06/03/2024

If a psychic sat me down and asked me to hold my palm out so that they could read my future I would be skeptical. Most of the time they would say something general, usually pure guesswork. More like a game of probability. They would probably tell me I will see a lot of red cars on that day and that would mean that I am attracting a strong presence in my life – because well the color red has a strong aura. Chances are, on that day I will see a lot of red cars not because they predicted it but because my mind will be thinking about it. Something about the law of attraction or more scientifically, Frequency Illusion. I would brush it off like I would a televangelist because let’s face it, they are one and the same thing. Televangelists shoot blessings like you would a machine gun in a crowded room. Some will get hit and others won’t. 

Now, if this psychic told me that I would be invited to attend a wine tasting, then I would laugh my guts out and walk out. I mean, there are blanket predictions then there are blatant wild guesses. Everyone knows I am a gin guy, sometimes whiskey, and nowadays, never vodka. But wine? The thought has never really crossed my mind. In fact, if I were to go to hell and the devil wanted to curate a personal torture chamber just for my sins, I am sure there would be wine involved. It is not so much that I hate it but as much as the thought of enjoying it as a drink crossed my mind. 

However, a few moons back the unexpected happened. I was invited to a wine tasting. My first thoughts were that this might have been a mistake and these guys confused my email address. I almost brushed it off until it was followed up with a phone call. The phone call went smoothly and the voice on the other end actually sounded like fine aged wine with a deep red color that had hints of oak and vanilla. That would be the only way to describe it and immediately I was sold and was like fuck it! Let me do this – what’s the worst that could happen? 

Looks like a good day for wine

I will not lie though, the wine tasting was on a Tuesday and anything to get me off my desk that would involve a little tipple before 5 p.m. is always welcome in my books. The only other thing I was worried about was what to wear. Everyone knows that wine-tasting events are bourgeois. That’s where you brush shoulders with gentlemen in merino wool bespoke suits with bold colors that might accidentally get a female peacock to fall in love with them. The ladies of course in their long flowing gowns that are like liquid silk falling over their shoulders. You know that sort of thing. On the other hand, the closest to class I have is a black phone case and a t-shirt that says “I Drink Beer” – not quite appropriate if you ask me. That would be a subtle middle finger to the purpose of the whole event. 

But that is besides the story. On the day of the event, the sky was sullen, overburdened with patches of gray that looked like they were on the verge of bursting into tears. It looked sad and not even the warmth of the hidden sun could do anything to cheer it up. I thought this was perfect; wine and moody weather seemed like the perfect combination.

Going right into it, I made my way to Shamba Cafe in Loresho. This is one of those gems Nairobians would live to call hidden. But maybe it might just be that I rarely explore joints in that neck of the woods. A little bit about this place seems far but it isn’t. When you go in, it has a nice welcoming atmosphere. It wears the attitude of a wealthy man who does not try too hard to look down to earth. I loved it. I made a mental note to come back one of these fine days probably with a fine lass as well because of the ambiance – it doesn’t want you to be alone, you need someone beside you awwing and aahing at the pleasant views and enjoying the fresh cool breeze. 

Guess who was in the building?

So back to wine. On entering the main lobby I was greeted by a flutter of activity. There were dozens of wine sommeliers and patrons creating a buzz around the space. It was interesting and there were the subtle tones of wine lingering in the air mingling with the mild chatter as sommeliers passionate about their different wines couldn’t wait to explain every little detail about the contents of their bottles. The space had what I think Gen Z would call positive vibes and that was just the kind of energy I was looking for. The whole ambiance had me excited to try wine for the first time and this is to say something. I didn’t know what was in store for me.  

At the entrance, we were given these cute bags where we were to put our glasses. It was a nice keepsake but I doubt anyone at the event made use of it as a glass holder. What would be the point? Anyway, The first wine I started with was a red from Sicily. It was at this point that I began feeling like a low-key Italian mob boss with the only thing missing in my hand being a cigar, a pinky ring, and hairy fingers. The sommelier passionately talked about the wine and I could pick up that they might have been lovers in a different lifetime. The wine itself, as I learnt, was full-bodied, and had spicy notes. What I learned, however, is that it is hard to pick up on these notes if your idea of wines is to get hammered. Wine needs attention to peel back its layers and to reveal its secrets. 

I decided to try another red. This time a Lambrusco. I must admit I mostly tried it because I was fascinated by the name. However, as much as I did not get much details on the wine and the region thanks to the buzz of activity around I must admit it had a dryness to it which had a slight bitter finish towards the end. At this point, I decided to walk around and get people’s views on the event. The general feeling was that the organizers, Gambero Rosso, had done a splendid job.

All in all, although I felt bad at having missed the master class that had been organized earlier I did learn that wine does bring people together and there is more that goes into the barrel than just grapes. There is a lot of passion and heritage passed down from generation to generation. So at least once in my life, I visited Italy through a bottle of wine. 

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