"Gauche...Gauche...Vers le bas...Oui, Le Rouge!!" I sputtered in my haltering French to a razor thin man hanging from his precariously balanced ladder in front of a towering wall of wine. He plucked my prized red from the cacophany, and proudly hoisted it into the air as though it were in fact a championship trophy, and not a bargain basement bottle of booze.
Today is my fiancée Rebecca's birthday, and we're celebrating in style. No, we didn't fly to Paris to commemorate her quarter century milestone -- we're not even in Montreal, or any number of exotic French island outposts around the world.
We're in the Islamic Kingdom of Morocco, where they just so happen to produce world class wines at mass market volume. The fact that Morocco is the 35th biggest producer of wines in the world is easily overlooked when considering a visit to this bastion of culture and tradition. It's ranking may not be anything to harp about, but the state's willingness to produce labels such as the Rabbi Jacob (complete with depiction of a menorah on the front) is an exciting development in the broader search for coexistence between long embattled faiths and frictional identities. Plus you get buzzed from it.
In an era marked by the ever widening gap between conservative ideology and hybrid pragmatism, the ability of a Jewish wine to exist in a traditionally exclusive culture is a beacon of hope to us all. The amalgamated identity it represents embodies so much more than another opportunity to toast my beloved's big day while overlooking another stunning sunset upon the Jemaa El Fnaa -- it signifies global citizenship, a world beyond clumsily drawn borders and hardline regimes. It stands for a world where opportunity is not limited by millenia old statutes and coexistence is joyfully fostered instead of violently suppressed.
The taste of that sweet Rabbi Jacob Vin Rouge Cacher on our parched lips, the merry enchantment we idled away in atop our riad in the medina -- they were truly special gifts. They were lifeblood of a sensible and worthwhile future being pumped through the veins of a most unexpected vessel.