Vino de Coyol

In mid January I was lucky enough to visit Costa Rica and spend an incredible week in the sun at a wonderful all inclusive resort.  It was amazing.  If you’ve never been to Costa Rica I would highly recommend it.  The people are wonderful, the country is stunning, and there is something to do for the adventurous and for those looking to relax as well as everyone in between.

But beyond all that what did I discover about Costa Rica? A drink that I can only assume noone has ever heard of called Vino de Coyol.  I still haven’t quite been able to decipher if this is an urban myth or not, but with some digging there does seem to be some substance behind it.  You see I initially found out about it from a resort shuttle driver who claimed it was “A wine produced in the trunk of a palm tree and if you have two glasses of it you won’t be able to walk.” he then went on “If you go out into the sun the next day, you will feel drunk again.”  Sounds like an urban myth right?  Too good to be true?  Well I knew right away that there was some fault to the story because “Vino” means wine and grapes don’t grow in the trunks of trees so I knew part of this was misleading.  However hearing that two glasses can get you extremely drunk, plus a buzz the next day just from going in the sun, that was enough for me to inquire further.  So I had my shuttle driver friend write it down for me and I have done my homework since.

Most of the sites reporting on it are in Spanish and the information is bleak but it appears this is more than just an urban myth.  The Coyol is a type of palm tree commonly found in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica – where my hotel was.  When the tree is cut down the liquid sap inside the trunk begins to ferment.  This fermented liquid is then collected to produce the beverage.  The name Vino of course is misleading, but it’s a local story and therefore they can call it whatever they want.  Interestingly though according to Costa Rica Wiki (obviously a reliable source) the natural fermentation process doesn’t actually produce a beverage with high alcohol content.  In fact in produces a beverage that contains enzymes and other substances which causes similar effects and feelings as typically associated with alcohol intoxication.

One thing is for sure every single site I checked mentioned the popular story of instant drunkenness and that same feeling resurfacing the next day if you spend some time in the sun.  That may be the myth, but it’s good enough for me.  I’d try it on my next visit… you?

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

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