The Unique Delight of Algerian Wine
The history of Algerian wine can be traced as far back as the times when the Phoenicians ruled and the Roman occupation. Today, wine making is a tradition in Algeria, with more than seventy wineries and wine makers passing down the secrets and uniqueness of Algerian wine, which has started to reach the international market. Grape varieties that were introduced to the landscapes of Algeria have allowed for a greater selection of wines to be produced, but there are a few traits of Algerian wine that make it distinctive.
Apart from the Phoenicians and the Romans, the Greeks, Persians, Medes and French, all brought their own preferred grape vines to Algeria, with grapes being brought in from France, Portugal, Spain and Egypt. Vineyards were planted in the Atlas Mountain foothills, with large quantities of grapes being used for table grapes, until a devastating disease nearly crippled the French wine making industry during the nineteenth century, and wine production in Algeria was relied upon until the French were able to stabilize the situation.
By 1930, the wine industry in Algeria was in full swing, with more than nine hundred and eighty thousand acres of Algerian land being used for vineyards and producing over five hundred and fifty million gallons of wine. The success of Algerian wine makers continued, and it is now a vital part of the heritage of the country. Hauts Plateaux is home to the vineyards in Algeria, as it has the correct climate and rainfall to accommodate the growth of the grapes. Wine producing areas includes Sidi Bel Abbes, Mascara, Mostaganem and Tlemcen.
What makes Algerian wine so distinct is that it is extremely low in acidity, the use of overripe grapes and its high percentage of alcohol. Very little or even no oak aging process is allowed during the fermentation period of the wine before bottling. Wines are also rich in color. With the ever growing popularity of using Ugni Blanc and Clairette, grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted on a smaller scale.
Algeria is competing with other legendary wine producing countries such as South Africa and Germany, by cultivating the same amount of land for the production of wine. Even though the country is known for its wine producing capabilities, some its products are only now starting to creep onto the international market. And with Algeria starting to seriously look at the international wine market, some wineries have already indicated that they will be experimenting with producing organic wine. Wine making has come a long way in Algeria, with various influences carving the way. It might not be a world-wide export industry just yet, but it is most certainly worth a taste.