I was aware of the unusual circumstances surrounding alcohol before I moved here. To wit, only non-Muslims may drink legally, and one may drink publicly only in hotel bars and restaurants. (This is a slight oversimplification, but you get the point).
In any case, I made sure to pack my trusty corkscrew. It's a waiter's corkscrew, with a double notch and it makes it easy to take the cork out -- no strenuous pulling.
Interestingly, though, I have rarely used it. Not, of course, because I am not drinking. Ha. But because almost all the wine available here has a screw top. It's a bit weird, and at first it doesn't seem like you're drinking wine. I like the ritual of pulling the cork, the satisfying pop it makes when it comes out.
But I have to say -- the screw tops are pretty easy. And on those rare occasions when we don't finish a bottle, we just put the top on and open it later. It keeps quite nicely.
As I mentioned, we are staying downtown, at the home of some friends. The apartment is well-located, about a half-block from a very large liquor store. You wouldn't know it was a liquor store, of course, unless someone told you. There are no windows or signs indicating what it is. It's just a red building.
I went last week, and took a colleague's just-arrived wife with me. I have a liquor license, and she doesn't (yet). So we went on a bit of a spree. There was a sale, with wine 40 percent off. Since the tax on wine is 30 percent, that can make for some well-priced bottles.
I have not seen many familiar labels, outside of the Australian wines. But it's been fun trying to pick and guess what might be decent.
One especially amusing grouping of French wines caught my eye: a Longue-Dog (with a picture of a dachshound) and a Chat en Oeuf (a cat sitting on an egg). I thought the puns were hysterical. A Languedoc and a Chateau-Neuf; how incredibly clever.
We opened the Longue Dog last night --it is a grenache syrah blend, a vin de pays d'oc or a tablewine. Blends, and wine made from out-of-region grapes in France are not afforded any AOC designation, but that doesn't make them less good.
In any case, the bottle was originally priced at Dh35, or about $9.50. Wine doesn't get much cheaper than that here. Plus the 40 percent off made it a bargain.
It was actually very good. Drinkable, smooth ... no complaints here. So I will buy it agian, and be amused when I do so. And next, we will try the Chat en Oeuf.