I was in Portugal just two weeks ago and now I’m privileged to be in Turkey for the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference. This big annual event is organised in İzmir this year. And my blog was one of the two international blogs (the other being Carolyn Blakeslee’s The Frugal Wine Snob) to receive a full scholarship to attend the 2012 EWBC from the good people at the EWBC Scholarship, Aleksi Mehtonen and Magnus Reuterdahl who run this private initiative to let people attend the EWBC. Thank you!
I’m so much grateful for this recognition not only because rubbing shoulders at the EWBC with the world’s best wine pens is a rewarding experience, but because I have long entertained a rather melancholic interest for Turkey in general and Turkish wine in particular. In fact the few occasions when I tasted Öküzgözü and Boğazkere I knew I was in for something special, and these indigenous grapes are showing a massive potential for quality that is slowly being disclosed by the burgeoning Turkish wine industry.
I look forward to tasting some 120 Turkish wines in the next three days. Having strolled through half of İzmir yesterday it emerged, however, that you need to be fairly stubborn to enjoy wine in this country. Retail is basically non-existent (I didn’t see a single wine shop, and just two stalls were selling wine at the bazaar), and the prices of wine in restaurants can give you a heart attack. I’ve had a lovely seaffood lunch at the Sakiz restaurant but the least expensive wine on the list was the equivalent of 15€… for a half-bottle! A glass of red at the 5* Swissôtel where we are staying is in that region too.
But it’s not only restaurant mark-ups that are extortionate. Prices in Turkey have generally risen by quite a bit since I last visited, and alcohol is taxed out of proportion. Even in the cheapest watering hole in a workers’ district where I walked, an Efes beer cost 2€. I wonder how many people can afford that. As it is, the closest I came to drinking an authentic local wine yesterday was having a freshly pressed pomegrenate juice. Now is the season for this fruit and you can have a glass everywhere on the street for 1€. Delicious.
I’ll be blogging about the EWBC in the next few days; for the time being, enjoy some pictures of İzmir.
I am participating in the EWBC thanks to a scholarship from the EWBC Scholarship, received with thanks.