A pleasant workhorse of a wine, Abu Mohammed’s latest home-made vintage has fruity aromas and a core flavor of apples. He also offers a range of styles from minimal oak and bright fruit, to heavy oak or butter styles that go with a wide range of food, from hors d’oeuvres and salads to light meats and spicy pasta dishes. Some are best savored while firing Qassam rockets into the Negev.
Lighten up, folks. That’s just a joke. If there were more wine drinkers in Gaza, there would almost certainly be fewer Qassams exploding in the Negev.
Sharia Alert from rapidly moderating Gaza: what fun these folks will have in Europe! “Dangerous life of wine-lovers in Islamist Gaza,” from AFP, October 15 (thanks to C. Cantoni):
Abu Mohammed goes to great lengths to enjoy his wine in Gaza. Risking the wrath of the enclave’s Islamist Hamas rulers, he sneaks to the rooftop of an abandoned house to make his own nectar.
Here in his secret hideaway, Abu Mohammed carefully turns grapes into home-made vintages he savors only in the privacy of his own home, far away from the disapproving eyes of Hamas police and Gaza’s conservative society.
Making own wine
“I started making my own wine after Hamas took power,” says the 40-something civil servant who, like all the other Gaza bootleggers interviewed by AFP, declined to give their real names for fear of being arrested.
“I asked friends how to do it and I did some research on the Internet,” he says.
Abu Mohammed risks much to indulge his palate.
Gaza has always adhered to traditional Islam and alcohol has never been widely available in the coastal strip.
Before Hamas swept the January 2006 parliamentary election, anyone could bring alcohol in from Israel and Egypt and a handful of restaurants and bars served spirits.
But that stopped when Hamas — the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement — routed loyalists of the rival secular Fatah faction from the territory in June 2007 after a week of deadly street clashes.
Since then, the sale of alcohol in Gaza has been banned altogether under a de facto law imposed by Hamas.
“No liquor is authorized,” warns a sign to visitors at the Erez border crossing checkpoint with Israel in the north, saying any alcohol found will be destroyed on the spot.
Meanwhile the smugglers doing a brisk trade in everything from cars to diapers through tunnels between southern Gaza and Egypt refuse to whisk alcohol into the territory for fear of running afoul of Hamas….
Guns? Bombs? Sure. A nice chianti to enjoy with your liver and fava beans? No dice.
“I am terrified by the idea of being discovered by Hamas police,” he says. “That’s why I make sure to do it all alone and in secret and above all not to sell it.”
Hussein knows the feeling. The 56-year-old — who has been making his wine in small wooden barrels “to add flavor” — is not only “afraid of being discovered by the Hamas police, who will have no mercy,” but also of losing face in a socially conservative society that does not look kindly on imbibers.
Ziad, 30, says he drinks alone to minimize any chances of getting caught….
Jamal Dahshane, who heads the Hamas police anti-drug unit and considers confiscating alcohol a “social duty,” admits he’s never run across such a case.
“Even if we discover that a person makes his own alcohol, we don’t have the means to arrest him because Palestinian law does not prohibit alcohol consumption,” he says. “Only the selling of alcohol can be considered as a criminal offence.”…