Up until a little less than ten years ago, wine was hard to come by in Indonesia. Citing religious or cultural concerns, several ASEAN countries – including Indonesia, where the legal drinking age is 21 – excluded wine and spirits from tariffs commitments in the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement back in 2009.
Due to high import taxes – 150 percent on spirits and 80 percent on wines – the alcoholic drinks you get here are much more expensive than overseas. Of course, foreign passport holders could buy them tax-free at any duty free shops.
Still, industry outlook is forecasting higher growth for Indonesia’s wine market, thanks to a rise in disposable income. There are now 18 importers providing still wines, fortified wines and sparkling wines. There are also some Indonesian alcoholic specialties such as arak (rice alcohol), tuak (plum wine) and anggur hitam (black wine), which are somewhat of a rarity.
Hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs commonly sell wine by the glass and bottle. Nowadays, online delivery of wine is becoming more popular. Rumah Wine, Bobobobo and Wine Shop Indonesia are some popular websites. Jakartaliquor, Happy Fresh, Minuman and Mambo Bodega are also useful websites that deliver alcohol straight to your door at reasonable prices.
Pacific Place has two wine bars, Vinoteca and Cork & Screw. They also have a wine shop underground that sells an assortment of international wines.
VIN+ Wine Boutique, which serves Western food, is ranked #1 for wine in Jakarta according to FourSquare. It is located right in the heart of Kemang, as is Hatten Wines.
Also situated in Kemang is a local Indonesian wine company called Plaga, which distributes locally fermented wines. Part of PT. Indowines Group, one of the oldest and largest wine importers in Indonesia, Plaga offers Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sweet Rosé, Chardonnay and regular Rosé. As of now, they’re using grapes imported from Chile and Western Australia, but have plans to begin importing grapes from Europe. Aside from the Jakarta location, Plaga also runs a shop on Sunset Road, Kuta, Bali. For more information, visit www.plagawine.com.
Another big local name is Sababay Winery, which gets its namesake from Saba Bay (Teluk Saba) in Gianyar, Bali. This company specialises in working with local grape farmers and have produced award-winning wines such as “Black Velvet”, “White Velvet”, “Pink Blossom”, “Reserved Red”, “Ludisia”, “Moscato D’Bali” and “Mascetti”. Sababay regularly hosts events such as wine dinners and acoustic music sessions in Surabaya, Jakarta, Bali and Bandung. For more information, visit www.sababaywinery.com.
Text by Sarah Soulsby