Buying Wine in Kampala

Buying Wine in Kampala

Let’s be honest: The phrases “Kampala, Uganda” and “wine country” never seem to appear in the same sentence. Whether or not you’re a fan of the locally made “Altar Wine,” be encouraged. There is life out there for wine lovers living in Kampala!

While all of the larger grocery stores carry a selection of wine, some of us actually enjoy the buying experience, the ambiance of an actual wine shop with professionals who know their stuff! You don’t just want to wander in and seek out the cheapest bottle of red or any ol’ chardonnay; you actually enjoy learning more about the bottle before you buy it. Plus, Shoprite won’t let you taste it!

This week, I took a closer look at a few spots around town. I found so many wine shops that you’ll have to stay tuned for “Part 2” in the near future, but for now… Enjoy!

No. 49 Cheese  & Wine

Nestled in the heart of the Bugolobi neighborhood, I found a little gem of a wine shop called No. 49 Cheese & Wine, which was named after its plot number on Luthuli Avenue. I guess you could say this place had me at hello!  From the moment I stepped out of the car and glanced around the quaint compound at the outdoor wooden picnic tables, I knew I was in for a treat.

This place really nailed it on the ambiance. It’s a fantastic venue for date night, after-dinner drinks with friends, girls night or, shoot, even mom’s day out! (I won’t judge!) When you enter the shop, a friendly face greets you and offers samples from daily selections of red and white wine.

They specialize in and carry South African wines exclusively, displaying a wide selection ranging from 18,000 – 240,000 UGX.  You’ll also find gourmet cheeses, jams, fresh bread from local favorite, BROOD, and a nice stash of cigars. Believe me, I earned some major ‘wife points’ by bringing my husband home a Montecristo!

Michael Rourke, the South African owner, says that the motivation behind starting this business was because no one else was really doing anything like it. He goes on to say, “We’d been lamenting for the past 10 years of our life about the lack of fine wine in Kampala, so we just said ‘let’s do it ourselves!’” He and his two business partners, Charlie and Peter, both from the U.K., opened No. 49 Cheese & Wine last December.

This shop is located on a gated plot off of Bugolobi’s main street—Luthuli Avenue. Look for their small sign out front or it could be easy to miss. No. 49 Cheese & Wine is taking a giant, positive step in the direction of creating more of a wine scene in Kampala.  Yes, there are other wine shops, but something about the ambiance and quality makes this a special place to be!

Hours: Mon-Sat 7:00-7:30PM, Sun 10:00-4:00PM
Address: 49 Luthuli Avenue, Bugolobi
Phone: 0759 499 463

Uganda Wines and Spirits Distributors

Uganda Wines and Spirits Distributors has three locations in Kampala: one at Garden City Mall, one at Plot 1A/1C Acacia Avenue behind City Oil, and the oldest location on Luwum Street, downtown by the main post office. They’re a Kampala staple and have been serving the community since 1994.

I visited the Garden City location and was pleased with the selection of wines from all over the world—Italy, France, USA, South Africa, Spain, Chile, Australia, and Argentina. This shop is extremely clean and well organized. They also sell cigars but only had a few Cohibas on display.

Uganda Wines and Spirits supply the wine for Kampala hotels like Serena Hotel and the Sheraton. I spoke to the manager on duty, and he explained how, when wine suppliers come through town, they do tastings and trainings with the serving staff.

Like No. 49 Cheese & Wine, they also have outdoors seating if you want to kick back and enjoy a drink. Unfortunately, by “outdoors seating”, I just mean that it’s outside the shop entrance. You’re still sitting right in the center of hectic Garden City Mall. Nothing says ‘romantic wine date’ like crying babies, people everywhere, and a noisy mall!

Take my advice: buy your wine here but enjoy it elsewhere.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00am-6:00pm, Sat 9:00am-4:00pm
Address: Garden City, Plot 1A/1C Acacia Ave, and Luwum Avenue downtown
Phone: 0414 257 145

Karuka Wine Shop

You’ll find Karuka Wine Shop in the Kisementi Shopping Center a few doors down from The Bistro. They have been operating from that location for about a year and were formerly located deeper inside the Kisementi Mall before nabbing the prime real estate out front.

Listen up! Karuka is the place to go if, and only if, you like wines by Robertson Winery. Why, you ask? Because Kareka only carries this one brand of South African wine. To be honest, it kind of blew my mind that there was an entire shop dedicated to selling just one brand of wine. I finally got a clear answer out of one of the workers who explained that they were a sales agent for that winery.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to brag on here. I found the workers to be un-engaging and the shop was incredibly disorganized. Chardonnay and Merlot were hanging out together while I had to search high and low to find my good buddy, Cab Sav.

Personally, I’d rather just buy from the grocery store than go to a wine shop without a selection.  With such a great location near The Bistro and Endiro Café, you’d think they’d want to make the most of it but, for now, that is not the case.

Address: Plot 13, Copper Rd., Kisementi
Phone: 0774 600 805

I think my favorite spot award must go to No. 49 Cheese & Wine. I was just there a few days ago and I can’t wait to go back! For buying wine, I’m confident that either No. 49 Cheese & Wine or Uganda Wine & Spirits Distributors would provide a great experience. If you’re a wine lover like me, be encouraged! The wine community in Kampala seems to be growing and I’m glad to be a part of it.

About Lauren McBride

Hey, I’m Lauren. I’m what you’d call an “expat by marriage.” When my husband and I stepped off the plane in Entebbe in June 2012, I had no idea what I was in for: the breezy traffic on the open road, enjoyable boda rides through the heart of town, or the gentle, lingering smell of exhaust blowing in my face. I continue to be amazed by the strong community in Kampala, the arts, the delicious food, and the fun hangs around this town. I’m committed to sharing the very best of Kampala with you through this website. Contact me anytime with your ideas, feedback, or jokes at