A few weeks ago we woke up to a torrential downpour on a Sunday morning. Normally, a rainy Sunday is the perfect excuse to lounge around at home. Of course, that particular Sunday, we had plans — wine tasting plans that involved venturing out into the storm to search for a taxi in Tunis. I wasn’t enthusiastic. At one point, the downpour was so bad that we couldn’t see out of the windows. No umbrella was going to keep me try in this kind of rain.
We’d been looking forward to the tasting al week, but really, did I need wine that badly? I mean, we have a cabinet full of wine at home that did not require getting dressed and hunting down a taxi in the rain. I had just written a text with our regrets when the skies cleared and a sliver of blue tried to peak through the clouds. Omar and I looked at each other: Should we? Shouldn’t we?
Mustering our social energies, we scurried out during a brief break in the rain to join the Tunisian Wine Tasting Club for a visit to La Cave Les Vignerons De Carthage in Mégrine. Mégrine is a residential town/suburb just south of Tunis that appears rather ordinary. We had some trouble finding the La Cave, since it is situated amongst a residential neighborhood with only a subtle sign marking the property.
La Cave Les Vignerons De Carthage
Entering the property, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We waited for others in the group at a tasting area with large concrete tanks and a few wine barrel tables in the main entry-way. It was a cold winter day and we were shivering as we waited.
As soon as the entire group arrived, we received short introduction to the property and learned that several Tunisian wineries store their wines at the property, which also serves as a convenient distribution point for Tunis and the surrounding areas. We also received a very quick run-down on the various wine-producing regions in Tunisia.
Next, we were led to a secondary room to get a glimpse of more concrete wine tanks used for fermentation and storage. This was a new experience for me because the vineyards I’ve visited in Europe and the US have all used either stainless steel or oak barrels for wine storage.
A real cave
At this point, the rain picked up again and I was ready to head back to the tasting area near the entrance for the wine. But, no…instead, we were led down a small path which narrowed quickly and sloped to a decline. The ceilings gradually lowered on us while the walkway turned from concrete to dirt. A slightly musty aroma greeted us and the lighting dimmed. With at least 10 people in front of me in single file, I couldn’t see where they were leading us, but I was getting impatient for the tasting portion of this adventure.
After another 50 steps or so, the pathway opened to a wondrous wine cave! We were underground, sheltered from the rain and cold, and surrounded by wine.
Oak barrels lined the cave and we were greeted with a glowing table of wines, cheeses, nuts, and crackers. It was not at all what I was expected. This was better than a Sunday in pjs for sure!
The wine tasting
After reaching the glorious underground tasting room, we started our tasting with bubbly. #Perfect!
After the bubbly, we moved on to 3 whites, 2 roses, and 4 reds.
Ten tastings of Tunisian wines, lovely munchies, and fabulous company. The afternoon was a pure delight. It’s been one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had during our time in Tunisia so far. I had such a delightful time, I forgot to take pictures of the individual wines. Oops! I owe a big thanks to the members of the Tunisian Wine Tasting Club for the photos of the wines you see above.
My favorite of the tasting was the Cabernet Sauvignon from Carthage. It’s not one that I’ve seen in the local stores, but now I’m keeping my eyes peeled for it. The Magon and Viex Magon are also solid choices for Tunisian reds.
If you find yourself with an afternoon to spare in Tunis away from the major tourist attractions, I highly recommend a visit to La Cave Les Vignerons De Carthage. It’s only 15 minutes outside of Tunis and close enough to get there by taxi. You must call ahead (and have a French or Arabic speaker to help you make arrangements). If you do make a visit, I’d love to know how your visit went!
What are your favorite local wineries or tasting rooms in your area? Please share!