The island of Bali is of course part of the Muslim nation of Indonesia and for many who prefer drinking red or white wine over beer, it can be an expensive indulgence when traveling to the island on vacation. Purchasing wine in Bali is possible, however the price of this indulgence may prohibit many from enjoying a tipple on a sunny afternoon.
Why Is Wine So Expensive In Bali?
In 2015 the Indonesian Finance Ministry increased its import and excise tariffs, effectively doubling the price of some types of alcohol. In the regulation, which came into effect on July 9 the Finance Ministry announced that any beverages with an alcohol content of less than 80 percent such as brandy, whiskey, vodka, gin, rum and wine will be charged import duties at 150 percent. Depending upon where a purchase is made on the island, visitors can expect to pay between 200% - 300% more for the same or similar product they would purchase in their home country.
What Is The Duty Free Alcohol Allowance?
The duty free allowances for those traveling into Bali, Indonesia are: Spirits, Liqueurs and Wines - a limited allowance of 1 Liter per adult in 2017 according to the Frommers website.
Bali Grown Wines
For lovers of wine they will be aware Bali is not known to be a world-famous wine growing region however that doesn't mean visitors to the island have to go without, due to what some see as a cost prohibitive indulgence when visiting the island.
You may be surprised to know there are a number of Bali vineyards where wine makers are producing blends using a combination of local and imported grapes from Australia and Argentina to create a range of unique fresh tasting wines unique to the island. Let's take a look at some of the top wine producers on the island of Bali, Indonesia.
Hatten Wines standout from the pack as they were Bali's first ever winery. The company has been making wine in Bali since 1994 and were voted 'Winery Of The Year 2017' by the Asian Winery Review. The company produces and distributes a range of wines and spirits including Hatten Wines, Two Islands, Dragonfly and Dewi Sri. The wines are made by using a wide range of grape varietals which are grown in Hatten’s own vineyards across the island.
Once ripened the grapes are hand harvested, cleaned and taken to Hatten’s progressive winery in Sanur which boasts stainless steel vessels, a horizontal press, a total of 56 large wine tanks, fermenters, a bottling room and a cutting edge laboratory facility.
Both the Aga Red and Aga White wines are highly drinkable. It is also possible to purchase the range in casks for those looking to purchase a higher volume of wine. Cellar door in Sanur hosts a range of their newest collection of wine and accessories during their free wine tastings, which are available 7 days a week. Prices range from;
- Hatten Aga Red 750ml - USD$12.12 / AUD$15.30/ GBP$9.42
- Hatten Aga White 750ml - USD$12.12 / AUD$15.30/ GBP$9.42
- Hatten Alexandria 750ml - USD$12.12 / AUD$15.30/ GBP$9.42
- Hatten Rose 750ml - USD$11.60 / AUD$14.64/ GBP$9.00
Overseen by the watchful eye of their in house wine maker who hails from Argentina, Plaga produces a range of wines by combining the finest imported grapes from premium wine growing areas of Chile and Western Australia which are fermented and bottled in Indonesia.
The winery produces everything from a mild and slightly fruity Chardonnay to a light and tropical Rose. Consumers can also select from a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon. Either way consumers of wine are bound to find something in the range to appease the palette. In 2017, I found the following prices for Plaga Wines at a local liquor store, Bali Wine Cellars.
- Plaga Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml - USD$11.60 / AUD$14.50 / GBP$9.00
- Plaga Chardonay 750ml - USD$11.60 / AUD$14.50 / GBP$9.00
- Plaga Rose 750ml - USD$11.60 / AUD$14.50 / GBP$9.00
Many of the above wines are available for purchase in cask form also.
Artisan Estate Winery
Artisan Wines began with a challenge to grow wine grapes in Australia and then produce wine in Bali while still maintaining the rich color, flavor and balance you would expect from an Australian produced wine. Acclaimed wine maker Craig Newton devised a method of protecting the raw grape juice on its journey to the island and a new breed of wineries was born.
Artisan Wines offers consumers a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc as well as a rich and fruity Shiraz. The winery boasts that it can hold its own next to any other locally produced red wine on the island.
The Sababay Winery is located on the north coast of the island of Bali in an area named Buleleng which boasts dry sunny weather. The grapes are grown in the region's rich volcanic soil to produce a range of quality Balinese wines. At the time of writing the following prices for Sababay wines were available for purchase at Bali Wine Cellars.
- Sababay Black Velvet 750ml - USD$11.97 / AUD$15.00 / GBP$9.30
- Sababay White Velvet 750ml - USD$11.97 / AUD$15.00 / GBP$9.30
- Sababay Pink Blossom 750ml - USD$11.97 / AUD$15.00 / GBP$9.30
- Sababay Reserve Red 750ml - USD$14.30 / AUD$18.15 / GBP$11.16
- Sababay Ludisia 750ml - USD$15.34 / AUD$19.36 / GBP$11.91
- Sababay Moscato 750ml - USD$16.09 / AUD$20.30 / GBP$12.50
Avoid Illegal Alcohol Substitutes
It's important to be careful about the types of alcohol you consume while in Bali. For the most part when it comes to wine there is little or no risk in comparison to other countries including Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand when purchasing products from the manufacturers mentioned above.
Much of the local alcohol production for products such as Arak and Tuak can be manufactured in unregulated locations by people who are not qualified to brew or distill. Many medical emergencies have occurred as a consequence of drinking these 'home brews' including blindness and death, particularly when these products are consumed in night clubs.
Arak for example is blended from menthanol, a variant of alcohol much like ethanol which is used to manufacture vodka. When it's initially ingested into the body, methanol breaks down first into formaldehyde and then into formic acid and its salts.
Home Distilling Setup. Photo courtesy of I Made Surya Candra
Less than a teaspoon of methanol is enough to cause blindness, kidney failure, brain damage and even death. For the back yard manufactures of Arak they may not be aware that methanol can be accidentally produced during the fermentation process intended to produce ethanol.
As an example of just how easily this can occur - if the temperature during fermentation is too high, or if the brewer is not experienced enough to flush off the first part of the distillate, which contains most of any methanol that has been produced, then a bad batch with th potential to cause death is produced.
It is worth bearing in mind, tourists to the region are unlikely to be served Arak in the bar of any decent hotel however the odds quickly fall out of your favor when consuming drinks at a bar advertising $5.00 cocktails.