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January 09, 2008

Ethiopian scientist to launch Khat "wine"

Ethiopia - Bored of Bordeaux? Ethiopian to launch Khat "wine"

Reuters

An Ethiopian scientist is preparing to launch a new tipple for those looking for a twist on the usual glass of the grape -- "wine" made from khat.

Instead of grapes, Eyasu Haile Selassie has been making wine from khat leaf, which is widely chewed throughout East Africa and the Middle East for its narcotic effect.

"Khat wine is just as good as any wine produced from grapes and has been well-received by wine drinkers," Eyasu, who said he had sent out 500 tester bottles to consumers, told reporters.

Also a medical doctor, Eyasu has registered the beverage with the country's Quality and Standard Authority and plans to start commercial production as soon as possible.

But for those hoping the wine will replicate the stimulating buzz of khat leaf, Eyasu was quick to say the drink was purely alcoholic and studies showed that khat leaves lost their amphetamine qualities within 48 hours of harvest.

Khat is one of Ethiopia's major exports, generating up to $100 million in 2007/08.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse, Writing by Katie Nguyen)

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