Wine popular on more palates in Muslim Indonesia

Tue Oct 7, 2008 2:45am EDT
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By Fitri Wulandari

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - What's the best wine for Indonesian chicken satay with sweet peanut sauce? Or a traditional suckling goat barbequed slowly over soy sauce?

Indonesians are finding out the answers to these questions and more as they sip and swirl at the many wine classes and wine tasting events that have mushroomed in Jakarta, capital of the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Jakarta's wine classes -- mostly attended by young, urban professionals -- teach people everything from the intricacies of picking and storing wine to opening a bottle and pairing the right wine with the right food.

"We are not trying to promote wine because it's a sensitive issue here in Indonesia," said Yohan Handoyo, a wine writer and instructor at wine class, Winexperience. Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol.

"The class is for people who have decided to drink alcohol and they have questions about wine."

Wine has been available in Indonesia for years, but it was mostly enjoyed by expatriates, tourists and the upper class.

But now middle class Indonesians are also quaffing down vintages in trendy bars across Jakarta.

"Unlike hard liquor often associated with night life, wine is a social drink that one has while having dinner with friends," said Handoyo, whose book "Rahasia Wine," or "The Secret of Wine," won an international award last year.   Continued...

<p>A group of young Indonesians listen to a wine writer and instructor during a wine class in Jakarta August 2, 2008. REUTERS/Supri</p>