Sunday, October 22nd 2017

Wine from Burma??? – Never heard of…

 

Wine from Burma or Myanmar…I had never heard about it before we went to this country. I would not even think that  country like Burma can produce wine. While researching for what to do and what to visit I came across information about several vineyards around Inle Lake. One of them is run by French, another is owned by Germans. No surprise they were established by Europeans.

Our first try of wine from Burma was in Kalaw, a small village in the mountains not far from Inle Lake, popular among toursits for trekking tours.  We got a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Red Mountain Estate vineyards located directly at Inle Lake. The wine was quite ok, but interestingly had very flowerish taste.

Sauvignon Blanc Burma

Later when we were in Inle Lake we decided to visit the vineyards with the aim of getting the wine from the source, as well as cheaper than in shops. Shops sell these wines for 10-15 EUR a bottle, which seems a bit too much for where it is produced and where it is sold. Moreover I cannot say I was extremely impressed by the Sauvignon Blanc we had.

We rented bikes to go around the lake and one afternoon accidentally were passing the Red Mountain Estate vineyards. Without much hesitation it was decided to pay a visit and have a glass of wine. The vineyard’s tasting-drinking-dinner hall is located on a hill overlooking vineyards. Far in the distance you can even see the lake. But who cares about the lake when there is cold wine.

Red Mountain Vineyard

 

To our surprise there was no wine on tap (as in all normal wineries) only bottles, and the prices were just slightly lower – 9 000Ks & 13 000Ks (9, 13EUR) vs 10 000Ks & 15 000Ks (10, 15EUR) respectively in shops. The cheapest wine costs 7,5EUR / 0,75l bottle.

Here you can choose from a selection of white, red and rose wines, about 10 wines in total. We tried Pinot Noir (14EUR / bottle), Late Harvest (12EUR/bottle) and the simple white one called Inle (7,5EUR/bottle).

white wine Inle lake

I am far from being a wine connoisseur or sommelier. I can just simply say I like wine or not. I don’t need anybody telling me what body or aftertaste this or that wine has. I was not much impressed by the wine. All of them have strong flower side-taste or aftter-taste, whatever it is called. The red one tasted a bit of not very quality wine (from Argentina, for example) which is sold cheap at a Vietnamese corner shop in Prague for 4USD.

Personally I think prices do not correspond to the quality of the wine and should be lower. But I guess during the high season in Burma everything has special tourist prices. But everybody is happy as long as dumb tourists pay for overpriced goods and services. We ordered wine per glass and then ordered a bottle of simple white wine and still we paid almost 17EUR. For this money in France you can get several bottles of some pretty good wine, well definitely better than what we just consumed. But such as life, no complaints.

Glass of Late Harvest

In any case the wine had its happy effect on us and by the time we were finishing it we entered that state of being pleasantly drunk. It was probably one of the best moments of our trip to Burma. I definitely did not regret and do not regret now that we decided to spend money on famous overpriced Burmese wine.

Tipsy in Red Mountain vineyard, Burma

 

 Have you ever heard about wine from Myanmar / Burma? Maybe you have tried it. Please share with your experience. 

 

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11 Comments on “Wine from Burma??? – Never heard of…”

  1. I also never have heard of Burmese wine, so it was interesting to read your story. I do like a good glass of (mostly red) wine but when in SE Asia I hardly ever have any as it is usually pretty expensive and red wine is usually also chilled. It was nice to get home after a 10-month trip through India, Thailand, Malaysia and China, and get a very decent bottle of Rioja at my local supermarket for 2.79 Euros, last night.

    I assume that the high(er) price in Burma perhaps does have to do with the overall production costs and the probably lower output and sales volume but then this is only my guess. The quality might get better in the future, in particular if the vineyards are run by French or German who are hopefully familiar with the growing and production process.

    China already produces some decent wines but prices are also a bit higher than here in Europe for comparable qualities. It is probably that wine is also still a novelty in these countries and only drunk by a few.

    I remember that good tap beer in Cambodia was dirt cheap – any experience on that in Burma?

    Interesting story, thanks.

    Walter
    Vienna/Austria

    1. Thank you, Walter. I felt i needed to share it. I am not a wine expert but I like wines. Unfortunately it is quite expensive here in SEA. The cheapest we could get in Chiang Mai now would be 10USD in a supermarket. We plan a trip to Italy and France especially for food and wine once we are back to Europe.
      Beer in Burma was not really cheap, and I cannot say it was good. Maybe I am too spoiled by good beers of Europe.

  2. I don’t know what kind of wine you expected after paying less than 20. May be its due to your personal experience as you said.

    1. I paid less than 20EUR, because I chose not to spend more. Do you mean I should have paid more? Have you tried wine there?

  3. I tasted there vine more times!
    One was very tasteful and good! I forgot to see the year and name (red vine)
    I have also visited Reed Mountain Estate! November 2012 (a month ago)
    It was interesting … but none of the vines was very delicious! It was all vines from 2011 – and they told they did not have more of the older once … they should have been better!
    Claus Christensen

    1. Yes, Claus, the ones we tried were not really good. They did not have other wines to try. Maybe they will improve the wines in the future. How did you like Burma? Where did you go?

  4. We tasted Red Mountain wine in Kelaw and Inlee Lake hotel. We are hoping to visit the winery. My son publishes a wine magazine Suomi have tasted some fab wine. This is am emerging winery.

    1. The winery is a nice place and I liked spending time there despite wine not being too good and overpriced. Unfortunately they did not have any wine on tap, only bottles.

  5. […] on the balloon festival. Instead we cycled around the lake and it was nice. Visited one of the vineyards in the area. It is a nice place to visit especially in the afternoon when the sun is setting. The […]

  6. Alex –

    I am just back from Burma and agree completely with you. I tried a Shiraz from Red Mountain, and a Sauvignon Blanc from another estate called Myanmar Vineyard.

    Just based on taste and especially when considering cost, I agree it was very disappointing. Though I would say my Sauvignon Blanc was more dominated by chalk than flowers :).

    One thing I found interesting though was you could taste the more local flavours in some of the wines – for example I got strong lemongrass from my white. Maybe this was just auto-suggestion!

    I wonder whether the owners are really trying to rip off tourists, or just face a lot of hidden costs by producing wine in an infrastructure-poor country like Burma? It could be that they have no choice. I wish to give them the benefit of the doubt, and to say “sante” to their adventurous efforts. It’s early days yet with only a few vintages, maybe the wine will get better over time!

    By the way I did not have the chance to visit the wineries themselves – I spent a few days only in Yangon. Will definitely aim to go there next time – thanks for the tip.

    Mario

    1. Hey Mario

      You should visit the vineyard next time. Though I was disappointed that they had only bottled wine there unlike wineries in Europe. Plus the cheapest bottle was 7,5EUR. I think this is a bit too much for wine produced in Burma. I thought about “hidden costs” but did not come up with anything but purchase of plants in Europe and transportation to Burma. The rest – salaries,taxes, etc – cannot be even close to French or Italian. Nonetheless the wine here is way more expensive.
      Hopefully the will improve the quality of wine in the future.

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