Solms-Delta !Karri (honey wine) - an experiment by our winemaker Hilko - is a natural wine making process using fermented honey. Throughout history, wherever there were abundant bees, honey wine was made. There was once a healthy population of bees in Europe, but this is no longer the case. European honey is now scarce and honey wine is no longer produced on a large scale. Honey wine has become a novelty drink in Europe (where it is known as mead), a talking point. Moreover, most European honey wines are sweet and unsophisticated, although there are some outstanding exceptions in England, Poland, France, Germany and Slovenia.
In Africa, honey wine is consumed in vast quantities. African honey is harvested from wild or semi-wild hives and is rich in pollen and debris, which is perfect for making this wine. There are many types of African honey wine, unique to each nation. But most African honey wine is sold for immediate consumption; sophisticated marketing channels are not well developed. The most famous African honey wines are the Tej and Meis of Ethiopia and the iQhilika of the Xhosa people of South Africa. iQuilika is also called iQiri, and probably derives from the X’ari of the nomadic Khoe and San people, from whom the Xhosa derived their click language. Similarly, the mead of the Tswana nation is called Khadi.
The word X’ari was corrupted to Karri by people who could not pronounce the click. The word derives from the name of a tree which flowers early in Spring, producing the first pollen, and thus heralding the first honey of the season. Solms-Delta’s !Karri is produced according to traditional African methods, under modern hygienic conditions. It is also matured for 8 months in seasoned French oak barrels.