The Sweet Sweet Elixir That Is Palm Wine…

I remember being sick with measles and my dad gaggling with palm wine and spitting it all over my body while I squirmed in pain. Apart from it being deliciously sweet, palm wine also has healing properties; like helping women lactate during breast feeding.

I remember being in my father’s country home and eating Abacha; Aka African salad while chasing it with sweet palm wine. The combination of palm wine and Abacha is beautifully inexplicable. It’s a combination of flavors that resonates with your consciousness that would make you start betting with Yanga.

When you hear palm wine, what do you think of? A palm oil and wine combination? Because that was what I thought when I first heard the “palm wine.” Though they look like they are gotten from the same trees, palm wine is actually a naturally alcoholic drink made from the sap of different species of palm trees. I also found out that palm wine is known by different names; depending on the country or continent where it is harvested. While the Cameroonians call it “Tombo,” most Nigerians call it “palmy.” To us ajebutters, it’s simply known as “palm wine.”

My cousin recently told me that there are two species of palm wine. There is Ngwo and Nkwu Enu. Nkwu Enu which is gotten from the taller palm trees is most popular and I think much sweeter like the Orlu women of Nigeria.

I remember traveling with my family to my dad’s country home and my dad having the village palm wine tapper bring palm wine. Daddy always had to make sure the wine was sweet. Some times, he would get Ngwo but it was almost always Nkwu Enu.

Palm wine is used for prayers to the ancestors before any village or family meeting. The combination of palm wine with Okwo Oji (spicy peanut paste) is everything and a bag of chips.

After a post about palm wine on my Facebook page, here’s what my friends had to say 🙂

It’s the blood of palm trees, and all who drink it are vegan vampires. Geoffrey

Palmwine?! Sap of the gods!!! Ngwo helps in lactation, they say. It seemed to work for me because when I had my daughter, I did not lactate for about 2 weeks so hubby bought like 75cl of ngwo for me which I took and a day after, I was lactating like no man’s business. The tastes are different to my palate anyway. Fresh Nkwu enu is yeastier in taste than Ngwo to me. My late grand father used to drop nkwu enu into my baby cousin’s mouth when he was a baby. My mum is of the opinion that it is a natural source of yeast so it should be good for baby’s eyesights in controlled quantities. Me? I’d rather have palmwine(ngwo or nkwu enu) to any other kind of alcohol. Nkwu enu seems superior to Ngwo since that is the one usually requested for at occasions in my neck of the woods. Mma

Palmwine works wonders for measles. Jennifer

Udi in Enugu State brews d best palm wine. Don’t attempt drinking our palm wine if you are not strong enough. Woe betide u if dare drink d rare type ‘ogwudala’ when u have a sexual infection. Frances

in Agbor we call the down wine variant, Ozu.. it is my personal favourite. upwine is cool too but doesnt come close. about 8yrs ago in Benin, a palm tree in our house had grown too tall, my dad ordered that it be uprooted. after it was uprooted, i looked at the tree and realised it was a splendid opportunity to tap some Ozu in Benin. I tapped the tree and every day for the next couple of months, I would wake up to fresh Ozu.. In the first weeks, it tasted like syrup, very sugary atnd little alcohol.. within this period, i developed a habbit of drinking palmwine in litres, till one day i sat on a mango tree drinking palmwine and suddenly dozed off.. I would have fallen if not for the fact that a cousin of mine found me in time. Palmwine is an awesome drink, I miss waking up everyday to fresh unadulterated palmwine. my fav combo is palmwine with rabbit/grass cutter pepper soup.. oh I need to go to the village, city life is too lack lustre. Ik

If asked to choose between Tequila and Palm wine. I might just do both 🙂

Photo: Samuel Itodo


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