Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wine, Wine, Wine, the fruit of the vine, or maybe just vinegar?

During my many visits to Honduras, I have realized that Honduras does not, repeat, does not have a 'wine culture'. You'll be lucky to even find European wines that we take for granted, whether from the center of the universe (France), Spain, or Italy. You can find them but they're not very common. Totally forget trying to find wines from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Bulgaria. If the vintage is from an obscure locale, it's not existent in the Honduran world view.

The wines that are available are mainly Chilean, Argentinian, and Californian. You can find these at almost all grocery stores and they are reasonably priced, similiar to USA prices. The nice thing is that restaurants don't have the huge markup on wines that they have Stateside. An $8.00 bottle of Chilean wine in a supermarket will cost maybe $12.00-14.00 in a restaurant, compared to the obscene markup in the USA where an $8.00 bottle magically becomes a $28.00 bottle!

The problem is that since Honduras does not have a wine culture, you never know how long the bottles have been sitting on the shelf, whether the cork has dried out, and whether you'll be buying wine or vinegar. This has happened to me on several occasions where I opened my newly acquired bottle to find that it had as Monty Python so aptly put it, "the bouquet of an average armpit".

THE SOLUTION: Only buy wine from stores where lots of expatriates shop. In Tegucigalpa, I've found that there are always expats shopping at the Paiz store in the mall accross from the Intercontinental Hotel. They have a good wine selection, and I've never had a problem.

The problem of spoiled wine is even worse on the North Coast (think Tela, La Ceiba, and San Pedro Sula) due to the hot, humid client.

My ever enterprising wife has found an even better solution. She went to a wine wholesaler/importer and asked if she could buy wine there. They were happy to oblige as long as she bought a minimum of an assorted case. They even threw in a cork screw!!

13 comments:

Bound for Ceiba said...

Once again, you read my mind!

I simply must get the name of that wholesaler... :-)

DON GODO said...

In Tegucigalpa, the wholeseller is Juan Kawas. I believe they are the largest importer of spirits and wines in Honduras. Their principle (and original) location is in La Ceiba. It's downtown...Its called the 'Casa Colorada"

Bound for Ceiba said...

Really????

I know that place, I've walked past it a thousand times!!!

The things one misses for lack of attention, I tell ya...

Anonymous said...

I'm confused...is this Don or Jeff's blog. Casa Colorada was the place that I couldn't remember the name to tell you, Bound. I still haven't made it there yet.

That sounds like good tips about the wine.

DON GODO said...

Gringa,

No mistake...It's my blog, Jeff and Don Godo are one and the same.

Godofredo is the Spanish name for Jeffrey. Since I go by Jeff I decided I would shorten the Spanish name, hence Godo (Actually, my wife tells me that in Spanish, Godofredo would probably be shortened to Fredo, not Godo). But I'm not one for convention.

How does 'Casa Don Godo' sound for a cafe name?

Thad and Rachel Bartlett said...

In San Pedro there is actually a new restaraunt that opened this summer. The owner is a lover of fine wine and left his job in the corporate world traveling to bring wine to his home country. I can't remember the name of the restaraunt and I'm not a wine drinker, so I have no idea just know the passion the owner had....but their food was divine!! The restaraunt is located across the street from hostel tamarindo. Sorry that's all I can remember. But it's so worth the trip. The owner speaks wonderful english and the chef is peruvian. It's a neat place with a cigar lounge, beautiful artwork, and again..great food...if you are ever in San Pedro I recommend it!!

DON GODO said...

Thad and Rachel,

Do you guys live in San Pedro Sula?

Feisal said...

Cheers!
The S.P.S. restaurant Thad and Rachel mention is my uncle's. His name is Ing. Ivan O. Lagos and the restaurant/wine bar/lounge is a front-end for my family's exclusive wine import/distribution firm. Our portfolio encompasses most of the higher end wines available in Honduras from Argentina, Chile, Italy and France, as well as high quality blonde beers from Argentina and Germany. We also have pisco, an indigenous Peruvian spirit. All wines we carry are served alongside a Peruvian tapas/small plates menu prepared by a Peruvian chef. They are also available for sale by the bottle and case. In the evenings, the lounge which during the day functions as a meeting place and hang out spot for the S.P.S. "jet-set," turns into an upbeat dance lounge.
This past summer I left Boston to launch the Tegucigalpa market of our firm, as well as spearhead the restaurant concept and public relations for the distributorship. It was an incredible time and I definitely drank my fair share of inventory.
The place is called Deriva Enoteca (enoteca meaning wine bar in Italian), and Deriva an acronym representing my cousins names "DE RIcardo IVana y Andres." I urge anyone interested in the first and only wine bar in Honduras to pay a visit. You are most welcome. It is located in Colonia Los Andes, across from our friends Juan Carlos and Angela Bendeck's Tamarindo Hostel. Also, our wines and beers are featured at upscale restaurants throughout Honduras. Outside of that market, our wines will never be available in supermarkets as that market is for the more commercial wine boutiques. Haha that was a mouthful, on that note... Buen Provecho.

Best regards,

Feisal Lagos del Cid

Thad and Rachel Bartlett said...

oh sorry, I've not been back on...no we do not live in SPS, we are hoping to actually move to Trujillo this year...we'll see, we're in research mode now and love all the blogs full of tips!! We travel through SPS on our way to Trujillo. Our group has enjoyed 2 stays with Juan Carlos and Angela - eating their fabulous homemade Mango Jelly!! yummy, making me long for Honduras right now. If anyone ever wants a wonderful, welcoming, inexpensive hostel...look them up!! It's great atmosphere, Juan Carlos is a world traveler (have him play his didgeridoo) and make certain to have Angela sing for you!! She was a finalist (3rd I think) in the Latin American Idol contest and was a judge in battle of the bands. They are both delightful people that will provide you with wonderful advice for your time in SPS and great conversation...and be sure to eat across the street...I got the ceviche, recommended by Ivan himself and he was right, it was wonderful!! My husband got a fresh seafood stew....both delicious!

Bound for Ceiba said...

I am SO THERE next time I'm in SPS.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know of a distributor in San Pedro Sula. I have never been to Honduras but will be there on vacation for new years. Thanks!

Marianna said...

I would like to know what the laws are in Roatan for selling wine by the glass? could you please respond if you know or could find out to marianna.love@gmail.com
Thank you
Marianna

Anonymous said...

What is your point? There is a bunch of people still here in the US whod does not have a clue about wine!