Grapevines were first introduced to Tanzania’s central zone in 1938 by missionaries from the Hombolo Catholic Mission, who, after independence assisted in setting up the first commercial production in Dodoma.
South Africa, the continent’s leading wine producer, has also been Tanzania’s Big Brother and helped in developing its grape-growing and wine-producing sector.
Dodoma is the country’s major grape growing region and the four-acre grape farm at Dodoma’s Isanga Prison was the first government institution to invest in wine; in 1969 it built a winery plant and achieved international recognition by becoming Tanzania’s sole buyer of grapes for wine processing.
In 1979, the government established the Dodoma Wine Company, which bought grapes from farmers, established a research centre to determine appropriate types of grapes for wines and encouraged more farmers to start grape farming.
In 1999, South Africa’s Distell Group acquired a 10% shareholding in Tanzania Distilleries (TDL), which it increased to 35% by 2001. The investment saw the South African group build capacity in Tanzania’s marginalised rural areas and conduct training on viticulture and low¬tech vineyard management.
Ten years later, TDL imported vines from South Africa to jump-start the local industry and meet the wine needs of the country’s middle class.
Today, three main companies inhabit the country’s wine sector: market leader Tanzania Distilleries, Dodoma Wines and Central Tanzania Wine Company (CETAWICO), which produce variants of dry white, red and natural sweet wine.
And as a grape-growing region, Dodoma is distinguished on two levels. It has two harvests in a year – one in March, and the second in August/ September – and its dry earth, sandy soil and low humidity are said to be perfectly suited to producing dry white and red wines.
Tanzania's Dodoma region produces three wines -- dry white, red and "natural sweet."
One of the biggest lovers of Tanzanian wines is Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta according to Tanzanian President John Magufuli.
President Magufuli disclosed Kenyatta’s love for Tanzanian wine after he visited him at his rural home in Chato, Tanzania. As a gesture of their good friendship and relations, Magufuli also gifted Kenyatta four beautiful peacocks.
“He has really loved Tanzanian Wines very much so I expect Kenyans led by him will soon start making orders, especially for the Dodoma wine. There is also another wine called Presidential wine he has tasted it and he has seen indeed it is the real taste of wine,” Said Magufuli amid laughter from Kenyatta.
Considering that, here are nine popular Tanzanian brands of wine.
This much loved rubly red wine is characterized by intense and well balanced, strong body with a bood acidity, hints of forest fruits, chocolate and apricot.
It is best served with roast and grilled meats, game and mature cheese.
Serving temperature is recommended at 16-18°C. Uncork one hour before serving.
It boasts of alcohol percentage of 13,5%, residual sugars 3 gm/litre, total acidity 5,8 gm/litre, net dry extract 32 gm/litre, pH 3,4.
Dodoma dry red and dry white
If you're in Tanzania and you need a decent cheap red for dinner look no further. Dodoma’s dry earth and sandy soil, combined with low humidity, are perfect for producing dry wines.
Dodoma dry red is a fine wine with hints of spice and berry, giving a full round taste on the nose and a warm pallet on the tongue.
Well-rounded with a full-bodied taste, the red wine shows hints of grape sun-aged while still on the vine and further hints of cinnamon, clove, and wood in its notes.
The red wine has a smooth, rounded taste and is best served with "Nyama Choma," (roast meat). It has a 12.5% alcohol and is made from Makutupora grape varieties.
Dodoma dry white on the other hand is the white variety – it’s not much of a fruity wine neither is it a sweet white wine.
It is good for fish and seafood.
Dodoma Tanzania Chenin Blanc White Wine
“Among the best Dodoman alternatives, at least for Chenin Blanc imo. Honey and Jasmine, some tropical. Even some smokish notes. A bit low on intensity. However, I'm impressed by production of this fresh white as close to equator as this. Safi sana!” reads one of the reviews about the wine.
It is straw coloured, with intense fragrance of fruit and flowers. Well structured and balanced. It is best served with seafood, fish and white meats.
Alcohol 12%, residual sugars 2,7 gm/litre, total acidity 6,5 gm/litre, net dry extract 23,5 gm/litre, pH 3,35.
Imagi Dry White and Dry Red
The Imagi Sweet Wine not only has a more pleasant label, but it has a clean nose, and balances a light sweetness, tannins, extracts, alcohol and a bit of acidity well.
Imagi Dry White has notes of apple and white fruits. It is very light and it is best drank cold. 11% alcohol.
Imagi Dry Red on the other hand is a Bordeaux style nose. Nose of black fruit, leather and a touch of green pepper. It has 11.5% alcohol.
It is full bodied deep garnet red wine with clean and vibrant fragnance of blackberries with notes of vanilla.
This wine comes packed in a big, silver crucifix on the burgundy coloured label and it absolutely tastes like the type of wine you get in a church. It costs as much as the other normal brands.
It is ideal for sacramental use and dessert
Sharye is a wine produced from the blend of Marzemino, Teroldego, Syrah and Aglianico coming from hundreds of local producers, all organic, who work in the region of Hombolo. The region is located in the central Tanzania, The climate is mild and breezy, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 35°C.
The wine matures for 6 months in the fermentation tank. The finished bottles are then stored in a room with temperature and humidity control. In this status it remains 2 months before being sent to the market.
Makutupora is a local dry red grape that grows in dry earth, sandy soil with low humility. It is named after a district in the Dodoma region where it is grown.
Dating as far back as 300 years ago, Rubisi (traditional banana wine) is made from sorghum beer sweetened with fermented banana juice. It can be consumed fresh or stored and served in bottles.
It all started with local farmer making of banana juice (Mulamba) which usually gets sour after two days but has no alcohol content.
By that time farmers were drinking beer made from sorghum only and it was somehow bitter so farmers tried to make a balance by sweetening sorghum beer with Mulamba.
It is not strange to see banana wine being used at local functions such as payment of dowry, wedding ceremonies and funeral ceremonies.
A red wine from the Dodoma region, Dompo is a very sweet, fortified wine that tastes like a communion wine. Though called a red wine, Dompo comes out of the bottle as more of a purple colour than red.