As the plane descended into the Chișinău airport, capital of Moldova, I knew an experience like no other awaited me. Upon disembarking, I was greeted with a warm welcome and a bottle of wine. In that moment, Moldova promised to be a fun adventure.
Moldova is both the smallest and poorest country in modern Europe. The Chișinău landscape is dotted with dull, crumbling, off-white, cinder-block buildings I had only witnessed once prior – in Cuba. Soviet housing, a worn out sign of days gone by, and jarring pot-hole filled roads display lingering communist deprivation.
Moldovan vineyards are still recovering from decades of Soviet emphasis on low-quality, high production wines. Viticulture is evolving, but after years of collectivization, progress is slow.
Wine of Moldova strives to elevate Moldovan wine practices through education, international tastings, funding travel of winemakers to and from Moldova, supporting the Moldovan Sommelier Association, and hosting an annual wine festival.
Not knowing what to expect, I was surprised the Moldovan cuisine includes so many vegetables. Of course, the plăcintă, served stuffed with potatoes, cheese, cabbage, or fruit took the prize for deliciousness.
While wine production from international grapes remains high, some wineries emphasize recovering the indigenous grapes of the region.
Moldova’s indigenous white grapes include the ancient Fetească Albă, offering delicate floral notes in a light and fresh body, and the semi-aromatic Fetească Regală, with floral, citrus, and orchard elements in a full-bodied, textural wine.
Native red grapes include Fetească Neagră, full of dark berries and spice, with smooth tannins, and the ancient Rara Neagră, with hints of fresh and dried fruit, spice, and vanilla with a soft mouth-feel. Whether crafted in a blend, or single variety, each of these grapes holds something familiar, yet unique.
For a deeper dive into Moldovan wines and food pairings, check out these articles from the #WinePW crew:
Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares “Cooking Out with Moldovan Wine”
Liz at What’s in that Bottle shares “Moldova Mashup: Wines of Moldova & Foods of the World“
Terri at Our Good Life shares “Special Celebration and Moldova Wines”
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Smoked Pot Roast with a Negru de Purcari from Moldova”
David at Cooking Chat shares “Ground Beef Chili with Red Wine from Moldova”
Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen shares “Pairing Moldovan Wine with Burmese Cuisine”
Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Finally, a grill! Just in time for Moldovan wine pairing”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Maidens from Moldova + Summer Suppers”
Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares “A Look into the Wines of Moldova”
Jane at Always Ravenous shares “Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines”
Michelle at Rockin Red Blog shares “Discovering Wines of Moldova.”
Cindy at Grape Experiences shares “Have You Tasted Wines from Moldova? Try These!”
Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Uncorking Moldova – Three Wines To Try Now”
Martin at Enofylz Wine Blog shares “Getting To Know the Wines of Moldova”
Nicole at Somms Table shares “Tasty Moldovan Food & Wine Explorations”
Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “Moldova: Bubbles, Red Blend, and …Pizza? Yes!”
Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings shares “Moldovan Wines and Korean Sushi – Kimbap”
Susannah from Avvinare shares “Moldova – An Ancient Country with Beautiful Wines to Discover”
Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Cabin Pairings for Moldovan Wines”
My week in Moldova last fall was educational, eye-opening, and insightful. The people are warm, hospitable, and full of life. As they continue to work hard at overcoming their Soviet past, they welcome tourists, a key component to economic vitality.
The U.S. comprises only 2.5% of their wine exports – locating Moldovan wines poses a challenge, but a new discovery and broadening wine experience is worth the effort.
Thank you Wine of Moldova for providing #WinePW with samples and Jeff at Food Wine Click for hosting this month. To learn more about our pairing discoveries and dive deeper into Moldovan wine, join our lively Twitter chat Saturday at 10am CST using #WinePW