Palm Wine – The traditional alcoholic drink

So recently, I have been interested in different foods that have cultural importance. Not just because I am a food fan, but because I find it very interesting that the little things still have importance in culture and are symbolic in difference ways. This time – Palm wine aka nsamba (Congo), nsafufuo (Ghana), matango (Cameroon), emu/oguro (Nigeria), poyo (Sierra Leone). You may have had relatives talk about Palm wine before (if not it’s okay, once again Nollywood movies are here to help). I took a few minutes to look a little deeper into palm wine, where it came from and what it’s all about.

“Tapper” –

Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of palm and coconut trees. It is very common in African and Asia. “Tapping” is the name given to the method used to collect the palm wine sap from the tree. This is done by either; cutting into the tree or cutting it down all together. The white liquid that is initially collected is often sweet and not actually alcoholic, until it is fermented which is not very long as palm wine begin fermenting immediately and in two hours you’ll have yourself a cup of about 4% alcohol content Palm Wine.


As with many small foods in Africa, Palm wine has made its way into the culture through ceremonies. In some parts of Nigeria, Palm wine is served in many ceremonies such as weddings. Once again, a man wanting to marry is expected to come to his in-laws with palm wine and in funerals, it is a sign of respect to the deceased for a small amount of palm wine spilled on the ground before the drinking session begins.

Palm Wine at Wedding – “”

Palm wine has even made its way into literature; Chinua Achebe and Amos Tutuola are two Nigerian authors that have made mention of Palm Wine in there writing and the production and sale of palm wine is also a source of income for some people. So we can see that Palm wine has its many positions in African culture, but with many of these traditional stamps of African culture I do wonder – how long will their significance reign ? Are they slowly fading with the uprising of the new, urban generation or does it still live strong?

Let us know what you think – Leave a comment below, and if you get your hands on some Palm wine…. don’t drink too much!