Above: A Médaillon Cabernet Sauvignon enjoyed on the patio of our Rhinoceros Suite at La Sultana Marrakech in Marrakech

Moroccan Wine: A Pleasant Surprise

When I told a friend about how I had been pleasantly surprised by the quality of Moroccan wine, he exclaimed, “You can drink in Morocco? I thought it was a Muslim country.” Morocco may forbid drinking in public, but alcohol is not hard to come by in restaurants and hotels. Indeed, the Royal Mansour hotel mixes superb craft cocktails and has a wine cellar with no fewer than 17 vintages of Château Margaux and 18 of Château Lafite Rothschild.

Much to the relief of my accountant, I confined myself mostly to Moroccan bottlings. It amazes me how far the local wine industry has come in the past 10 to 15 years. Two successive kings have encouraged outside investment in vineyards and wineries, and that encouragement is paying off. Most wine lists now give pride of place to local wines, which come from vineyards near the moderating breezes of the Atlantic or the cool foothills of the Atlas Mountains. If you pick a Moroccan wine at random from a list, you’re likely to discover something at least drinkable. But there are ways to maximize your chances of ordering something delicious.

What to Avoid

First, I recommend generally avoiding white wines, which tend to be rudimentary. The worst was a Médaillon Sauvignon Blanc, which had aggressive acids and an off-putting artificial note when paired with seafood. Even a fairly expensive glass of Château Roslane Premier Cru Blanc from the Coteaux de l’Atlas appellation was over-oaked. The only memorable white I had was the CB Initiales Chardonnay by Thalvin’s Domaine Ouled Thaleb.

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