#39: Egypt

Ayam Viognier
Year: 2014
Grapes: Viognier
Producer: Domaine de Gianaclis
Alcohol: 12.5%
Source: Natalie Webber and Cornelius Dirkzwager

Grand Marquis
Year: 2013
Grapes: Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon
Producer: Gianaclis Vineyard
Alcohol: 12%
Source: Also Natalie and Cornelius! Thank you so much!!

Much is said about the dangers of radicalisation. Inches of tabloid columns are devoted to the terrible ways that the vulnerable are radicalised, the risks we all face because of radicalised terrorists, and I’ve even had teaching at work on how to spot the early signs of radicalisation in my patients so I can report them to the government! These are scary times, we are led to believe.

But Wikipedia simply defines radicalisation as a ‘process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo,’ and I am here to let you know that in the last couple of years, I have been radicalised. I am a radical feminist. I am adopting what are no doubt considered by some to be extreme political and social ideals, and I am definitely rejecting and undermining the status quo!

This has been a relatively recent change. In my late teens and early 20s, I was a much more reluctant feminist. I still saw feminists as angry man haters with hairy legs and unendingly boring monologues about women’s rights, and that’s not who I wanted to be. I wanted to be friendly and liked and, although I shudder at the memory, I wanted men to like me. Of course I wanted equal pay and equal rights, but I was young enough and naive enough to feel that I already had that.

But in the last few years, I’ve realised how wrong I was. How I genuinely didn’t understand my place in the world and the oppression of the Patriarchy. I didn’t understand how insidious and pervasive sexism was within our culture, nor how unconscious and innate much of the destructive behaviour could be.

I realised how far I had come at a recent respiratory training day at Eastbourne Hospital. None of my regular training day buddies were there so I ended up chatting to a group of people I’d not met before. But the fact that if I’d only just met them was not enough to stop me asking one of the guys if he could take a photo in the bathroom for me. Very specifically of the decoration in there, just to see how it compares to the decoration in the girls bathroom.

Because I was absolutely appalled at the ‘motivational’ messages that had assaulted me as I’d washed my hands. ‘Buy shoes and dance all night’ or ‘a lady should be classy and fabulous!’ Really? As I took a photo of the walls of this bathroom, a staff member told me they were wonderful. Wasn’t it a nice message, she said. And I had to tell her that I thought it was awful – shoes, cupcakes, dancing? It was beyond sexist. Do you think the boys are told to be fabulous? I asked her.

They didn’t. They were told they’re the greatest. *eye roll forever*

I don’t know what exactly has prompted this radicalisation – there are so many reasons that I don’t think I could have avoided it. I have more queer and sex-positive friends now and follow enough LGBTQ+ folks on Twitter that I can’t avoid the conversation. I suspect it has a large part to do with US politics and the fallout from Trump’s election – having a known sexual predator in the most powerful job in the land doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the equality of my future, even before he started not so subtly using his power to limit the rights of women through cutting funding to reproductive health programmes. My favourite feminist podcasts have also given me the language and examples to stoke my dissatisfaction. And it’s certainly partly because, as newly married couples will, Chris and I have been talking about babies and future families, and I have been thinking a lot about how we would bring up these children and what the world that they’ll live in will be like.

After all of this, I’m sure that I have genuinely become unbearable! Although I’m not a man hater, because we all know it’s #NotAllMen, I am angry. I’m angry and indignant and I’m sure I do spout endless boring monologues about the plight of women and sometimes I do have hairy legs because it’s my choice and I’m damned if the Patriarchy is going to make me do something that I don’t want to do today.

I sometimes think that I need to apologise to my friends for how quickly I jump to the defensive or how forceful my arguments have become, but this low level grumbling anger has grown inside me over the last few years and I literally cannot keep quiet. Particularly when I remember that apologising for being assertive or confrontational is something that only women do – who wants to be known as the bitch or described as shrill or bossy? We do it because of the Patriarchy, and so I don’t stop.

I’m not going to rant on for much longer because I’m hoping that none of you reading this really need to hear it.

Instead, I’m going to talk about hope! I’m hopeful that the overwhelming success of Wonder Woman and its female director, Patty Jenkins, will be the start of a new wave of films that show how strong women can be outside the male gaze compared to the sex objects or helpless princesses of the past. I’m hopeful that that the Weinstein/Westminster sex scandals will show everyone just how much women struggle in the work place, battling harassment and belittlement by colleagues who probably don’t realise how damaging their comments can be. I’m hopeful that this will give women the confidence to speak up and be heard.

This is the hardest one. The Guilty Feminist did an episode a while ago, and I can’t remember which one so you’d better listen to them all, about how women don’t speak up. In general, women don’t walk into a room and accept they are meant to be there; that they are entitled to respect and attention just by being in that room. We apologise, we wait to be introduced, we hesitate and don’t interrupt. I know because I do this – I never feel like I’m accepted or respected until I have proven my worth, and I am never secure in case one mistake will shatter that illusion and I’m revealed to be an imposter, even when I’m the most qualified person there. I still frame my opinion as a question, I still acknowledge their thoughts as an option, I still apologise for being insistent. Men reading this – do you know this feeling? Do you recognise the privilege that decades of entitlement have wrought and how hard women have to work do break through that?

But I am hopeful that the next generation of women won’t find it so hard. That I’m not the only one who has been radicalised and that the counterpunch from the current difficulties will be strong enough for a paradigm shift. That we are living in a whole new world.

Wine Info

Adapted from an article about Gianaclis wines on Cairo 360:

‘A little known fact to many of us Egyptians is that winemaking dates back 5000 years ago to the time of the pharaohs, where ancient drawings on tombs and other Pharaonic artefacts show the pharaohs pouring wine into vases and enjoying the sumptuous drink. The Egyptian wine heritage was further enriched by Ancient Greeks and Romans, who were known to use the fertile Nile valley to plant their vineyards in. Centuries later, the Egyptian wine’s reputation suffered in terms of questionable quality and an unrefined production process.

In 1882, Nestor Gianaclis, a tobacco merchant and entrepreneur from Greece, landed in Alexandria with the ambition of channelling his passion for wine-making into reviving the Egyptian wine industry. Gianaclis spent an estimated eighteen years searching for the perfect soil in Egypt, with the perfect temperature and moisture; and he finally found the perfect spot in the Delta area, just 70km south of Alexandria. Gianaclis set about building a world-class winery, which went on to earn praise by wine connoisseurs around the world and helped revive the wine culture once loved by the ancient pharaohs.

Flash-forward years later, when Domaine De Gianaclis was established in 2009. The family brand launched several premium wines using 100% Egyptian noble grapes that are 100% produced and bottled in Egypt. Ayam red, Ayam white, Zaman red, and recently Leila rose were introduced; offering local and refreshing alternatives to the Egyptian wine drinkers. Bringing in international wine experts and using the deftest techniques to refine and improve the wine business, Gianaclis is restoring the glory into Egyptian wine that once inspired Nestor Gianaclis to create this wine empire.’

Wine Verdict


This wine’s ruby red colour hinted at the strength of this flavour before I tasted it, and the strong, dark flavour didn’t disappoint. It was spicy and full bodied, and very, very dry. The tannins were almost overwhelming and, although that made it a very interesting wine to drink, it was more suitable for savouring slowly rather than just drinking. Which is an admirable quality, but not how I usually drink wine…!

7/10, dark and brooding

Compared to the tannic dryness of the red, this was unexpectedly sweet! It was very floral and aromatic, and the fruitiness has a sweetness that left an almost acrid aftertaste. We drank it while eating steak pies and I liked the sweetness as a contrast to the meaty-blue cheesiness of my pie but found it much more difficult on its own.

6/10, good with food


Wow, such heavy tannins! This definitely confounded expectations – mainly because it was really dry, and tasted much stronger than its 12% ABV. The sour flavours worked with that body and heaviness – in a thinner wine, they’d feel insipid or unpleasant, but in this they gave it some complexity and offset some of the weight. Still, while this is a drinkable red, and quite interesting, it’s definitely not one I could quaff every night of the week, nor a wine I’d be able to pair easily with most foods.


This had the peachy-sweet initial hit of a typical Viognier – an aromatic, off-dry flavour we haven’t really encountered much over the course of this challenge. In the mouth, it retained a brightness and clarity, but also had a hint of something weirdly smoky…and not weird in a bad way. Maybe a hint gooseberry too? The aftertaste isn’t the best, and this wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but I actually rather liked it.



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