I haven’t been to a wine event in ages. When the invite for Tastin’ France arrived in my inbox, I had to be there. Coincidentally, this happened at a time where I was self-training on French wines.
Business France, the trade and investment office of the French Embassy in Kenya, organized a professional tasting of spirits and wine from the country. Tastin’ France happens worldwide, and it aims to give people a chance to taste and learn about French wines. Enthusiasts can discover more wine, and people in the wine trade can network and create business liaisons. The event brought together 15 producers who were there to explore distribution partnerships as well as develop relationships. In attendance were importers, hospitality industry professionals, distributors, press, enthusiasts, and retailers.
Kenya as a market for French wine: Tastes and numbers
If you have followed this wine blog over the years, you have seen me detailing the wines stocked in Kenya. We already have a sizeable portfolio of French wine in Kenya, but it is exciting to see more brands explore the market. The event showcased more than 100 bottles of fine wine and spirits. I did not know many of the brand names, and this posed a perfect opportunity for me to learn and dip my toe back into the wine scene. I realized that most producers who attended the event had done their research on the Kenyan palate. They did not only stick to the sweet wine (which many people assume works for the Kenyan tastes). While a good number Kenyans order the predictable “sweet red” when they go to restaurants (and there is nothing wrong with that), I have noticed there is still a sizeable number of people who are more eager to experiment with different tastes and flavors, and this was well approached here. There was an array of wine styles, flavors, and varietals to try.
A walk in some of the supermarket shelves will show that there South Africa remains the #1 wine supplier in Kenya (105 M USD in 2020), followed by France (1.3M USD). Source: Business France.
The wine and spirits market in Kenya will continue growing because of the following reasons.
– More people are knowledgeable of what they are drinking. Different forms of media and experiences have also exposed people to more brands and ways of enjoying their drinks.
– As more new companies set up, the existing ones are also expanding their portfolio. More distributors are setting up shop. In 2014 (when I started the blog), there were about 15 distributors in the country. Today they are 30+ wine distributors. This exposes the market to a diverse portfolio of brands. In the next five years, we expect to see even more wine shops and specialty stores open.
– The middle class is growing, and so is their disposable income and purchasing power.
– As the population grows, the consumer markets are also expanding, which opens a chance for more brands.
During this tasting, companies from regions such as Bordeaux, Champagne, Cognac, Loire Valley, Rhone Valley etc. showcased their products. These included.
I will cover tasting notes and wine that I loved in subsequent posts.
Here are some pictures from the event. (Photography by Sylar Studios & Jean Wandimi)