Havana, Cuba’s El Canal winery, owned and operated by 65-year-old Orestes Estevez and his family, thrives thanks to an unconventional and specific practice: slipping condoms onto fermenting jugs.
According to the New York Post, a United States trade embargo, together with other economic complications, make thousands of items inaccessible to Cubans. This means making do with what one has, and summoning a little creativity. It also means that condoms are used for more than just safe sex.
At El Canal, Estevez fills glass jugs with grapes, ginger, and hibiscus, and then secures a condom over the top of the glass neck. The condom slowly inflates with gas as the wine ferments and falls off once the process is complete. Altogether, it sounds logistically graceful—not the way I would generally describe putting on or removing a condom.
“Putting a condom on a bottle is just like with a man,” Estevez tells the Post. “It stands up, the wine is ready, and then the process is completed.”
The image of the process replicated one hundred times—a room crammed with condom-topped jugs—is both absurd and remarkable.
But thanks to Estevez’s ingenuity, his community enjoys an otherwise unaffordable pleasure. On average, Cubans earns $25 per month and, accordingly, cannot afford the imported wine which costs roughly half of that.
If, however, you prefer fishing to wine-making, you’ll be pleased to know that condoms make very handy floats for carrying bait. Cuban fishermen have perfected this practice as well, using the prophylactics to carry bait out to sea.
I hope Estevez’s story inspires everyone to put on their inventors’ caps. But remember: should any science fair projects emerge from this blog post, please give credit where it’s due.