Edmonton is the first market outside of three northern Colombian states to get Cafvino on its liquor-store shelves.
But what is it? Is it a dinner wine? A dessert wine? A liqueur?
With its distinctive light brown colour, it doesn’t look like wine. To the nose, it feels like a Tokaji, sweet and musky. But when you take a sip, it’s not overpoweringly sweet. And, there is no sour or vinegar finish like you get from a lot of wines. That’s because the mellow coffee flavour takes over.
The brainchild of some experimenting Colombian university students, Cafvino is a red wine made with the fermented juice of the red Isabellina grape, harvested from the Cauca Valley. The wine is infused with the flavours of the country’s famous Exelso coffee beans. The result is a drink that’s hard to categorize.
Six years ago, when naturalized Edmontonian Ingrid Schifer de Dennis went back to visit her home country, she discovered the drink, which couldn’t be found anywhere outside Colombia. She made it her goal to introduce the drink to the world.
Now, she and husband Carlin Dennis run Schifer Imports, which has a 20-year exclusive licence to export Cafvino to the world. They have finally broken through the red tape of liquor exporting and are able to bring the drink to its first foreign market — Edmonton. Of course, it makes sense to make your home city your first export market, but Alberta’s liquor laws aren’t as restrictive as the other Canadian provinces, making it easier for exporters to gain footholds in this province than anywhere else in the country.
While coffee-laden desserts such as tiramisu are natural pairs for the drink, Dennis says it also goes well with savoury dishes. Chicken, beef and, surprisingly, crab have all been found to be good partners for Cafvino.
“Coffee resets your senses,” he says. And because coffee cleanses the palate, the drink won’t get in the way of the food.