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When Looking for Wine in Vietnam, Don’t

My 30th birthday trip to Vietnam was nothing short of magical. I’ll be posting some general pictures from the trip later this week but today’s post is all about the wine. Before visiting I honestly never considered what the wine culture was like in Southeast Asia, but I was quickly brought up to speed.

First, it’s safe to say that wine is not a celebrated beverage in Vietnam. Most of the wine that I saw was imported from another country, like France or Italy. Instead, and perhaps due to the extreme heat, beer was the preferred choice of most people.

Still, I’d read about a Vietnamese wine called Vang Dalat and sure enough, when I got there it was pretty much everywhere. What was interesting was that the wine wasn’t really sold by grape varietal, instead it was sold by red or white and in grades such as ‘Special’ and ‘Excellence’ which I found hilarious but #NoJudgement.

Anyways throughout the course of my trip I tried both the red and the white and….well just see below.

First attempt: Whilst on my Ha Long Bay boat cruise I started with a glass of white Vang Dalat. This wine was so bad I did not finish. It was truly terrible. Basically, it tasted old. Because it was. Probably because no one drinks Vang Dalat wine in Vietnam. Since it was my birthday and I was vacationing on a boat I opted for a piña colada instead.

Second attempt: In Hoi An I had a glass of Vang Dalat Classic at a really charming restaurant called ‘Orivy‘. Here, the white wine was drinkable, though I suspect that the accompanying food is what made it tolerable. And it was cold – which was much appreciated after riding bikes in 100 degree heat. Although the wine had a fruity aftertaste, it became apparent that something in the aging or fermenting process missed the mark. Although it was a better experience than Ha Long Bay, the wine still tasted old. At this point I was pretty confused because I have no problem drinking a cheap and/or shitty glass of wine – but I suppose in some places of the world even shitty wine is still drinkable. Vietnam is not one of those places. On another note Orivy is perfect. The food is fresh and cheap and delicious and the owner/chef was super nice. We had the spring rolls, vietnamese pancakes and wontons, which were all to die for. If you visit Orivy, and you should, maybe get a beer instead.

Final attempt: Since I’m apparently a glutton for punishment I purchased a small bottle of Red Superior Vang Dalat. On our second night in Hoi An I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately it was a hard no for me. I actually couldn’t even finish my first glass. It was sour and old and just, no. I set my glass down and happily cracked open an ice cold Tiger beer instead.

So all in all, if I had to sum up the wine experience in Vietnam it would be this: Get a beer instead.

Despite the shitty wine, you should definitely visit Vietnam.

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