There are 500 Lebanese restaurants in London alone according to the minister of tourism and I’m not going to argue with him. If there is that number there how many are there in the whole of the UK and Ireland? Food is one thing that Lebanon is renowned for. And wine. As he says, Tesco might call humous Greek but it’s actually Lebanese and you won’t find it in the same form in Greece, – unless you’re in a Lebanese restaurant there!
Today wherever you go in the world you will find Lebanese restaurants. Just like Irish pubs. It’s almost become the subtle tool of the tourism offices the world over to try and spread the message. Try the local food and then visit the country. And when you return home, restaurants spring up to satisfy your memories.
You’ll also find with Lebanese wine to be widespread. It has been cultivated for thousands of years. As the minister said, when Jesus turned water into wine it wasn’t into Bordeaux, it was into a Lebanese wine. Today there are more than 30 vineyards in the country mostly in the Bekaa valley. Twenty years ago there were just 5 but worldwide growth in wine consumption has made many countries expand. With 300 days of sunshine a year, Lebanon is ideally suited to be able to mature the gapes and now produces about 600,000 cases of wine each year. As you would expect given the French influence over the recent history of the country it is French grapes that predominate such as Cinsaut, Grenache, Syrah and Merlot. But local varieties as Obaideh and Merwah are becoming more popular to international palates. These days wine tourism is growing business for Lebanon. The minister, Fady Abboud, is jokingly referred to as the British minister in the Lebanese government. And now he wants more of us to travel there. Just 50,000 Britons visited there last year. Given that 3 airlines provide direct links, albeit from only Heathrow, there is no reason why he shouldn’t succeed.