An introduction to Moroccan wines
Selecting a Moroccan wine can be a bit confusing for the traveler. Labels often simply indicate that wine is rouge or blanc, without listing any grape varieties, and prices can vary widely while bearing little or no relation to the wine’s quality. Often, the only way to sample a Moroccan wine is to buy an entire bottle.
To make it easier to choose, here is an overview of Moroccan wines that are good quality, widely available in Morocco, and reasonably priced (usually 100 dirhams or less).
Most Moroccan wine, and certainly the best Moroccan wine, is red; if you are looking for a good white, look for Volubilia Gris, a light, smooth wine that is crisp and refreshing on a hot day. Otherwise, read on for the best of the reds.
Beni M’Tir appellation
The best-tasting wines come from the Beni M’Tir region, near Meknes. My favorite of this category is the Halanah Syrah, which is dry but breezy, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. The Halanah Merlot is also nice – a bit lighter, it’s smooth enough to sip on its own, independently of a meal. TheKsar Bahia is wonderful and, like most Moroccan reds, quite dry, but finishes on a sweeter note. Lastly, the Beauvallon is another Beni M’Tir worth trying.
Guerrouane Rouge and other reds
The other primary category of Moroccan wines is Guerrouane Rouge. I find them to be less consistent than Beni M’Tir wines, though some of them are quite good. The best is the Domaine de Sahari Rouge, of which both regular and reserve labels are available. The reserve is a strong, full-bodied wine that pairs well with a classic Moroccan lamb or beef tagine. The regular label version is nearly as good as the reserve, but if you can afford it, the reserve is worth the extra 20 dirhams or so. The Les Vins de Cepage Syrah is also pleasant, with a strong, fragrant nose but a somewhat weaker finish. Finally, Toulal Guerrouane Rouge is smooth and full-bodied, but with a deep, understated taste.
Other Moroccan wines
The following wines are not as strong, smooth, or complex as those described above, but are usually slightly cheaper and are also good options.
Amazir Rouge is a Beni M’Tir wine that manages to be simple without being boring (if you can find the 2006, I find it’s better than other years I’ve tasted). The Cuvee President Cabernet Rouge is very common and drinkable, though it smells better than it tastes. Despite the name, it’s more akin to a Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon. Cuvee Special Rouge is another common wine, and is best enjoyed with food; it pairs well with a Moroccan chicken tagine. El Kheima Rouge is harder to find, but it’s affordable and finishes with a spicy kick. And finally, Bonassia Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-priced red that’s more full-bodied and goes well with richer foods or desserts.
When purchasing and drinking wine in Morocco, it’s important to keep in mind that many observant Muslims do not drink, and no alcohol is sold at all during the holy month of Ramadan. The Moroccan government strictly regulates the manufacture and sale of alcohol, so depending on where you travel, it may not always be available. You may want to buy an extra bottle or two in a grocery store or liquor store to take with you as you travel around the country.