Monthly Archives: September 2020


Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines


Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines


Savory Cheese Crostata

Wine Adventure anyone? Ever hear of Moldova? Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine in Eastern Europe. The country has a rich and long wine history, the first known grapevines dating back to 7000 BC and winemaking around 3000 BC. It has the highest density of vineyards globally, with plantings of international and indigenous grape varieties.  Some of the world’s largest wine cellars are in Moldova, including the cellars at Milestii Mici – registered in the Guinness Book of World Records with over 1.5 million bottles of wine. What better way to explore Moldovan wines than to taste and pair them with a savory cheese crostata.

This month the Wine Pairing Weekend group is traveling virtually to Moldova. Jeff from FoodWineClick is our host and arranged for wine samples from Wine of Moldova. Don’t miss more adventures on Moldovan wines from the group at the end of this post. And join us for our Moldovan wine chat on Twitter, Saturday, July 11th at 11:00 AM ET using hashtag #winepw to follow the conversation.

Fast Facts About Moldova’s Wine Industry

  • In 1812 Moldova became part of the Russian Empire. The wine industry flourished until phylloxera hit at the end of the 19th century. The Moldovan wine was further damaged with two World Wars.
  • Under the Soviet Union in the 1950s, vineyards were re-established, and inexpensive bulk wines were produced for the Soviet market.
  • With the fall of communism in 1991,  Moldova gained its independence from the Soviet Union.
  • In 2006 Russia accounted for 80% of Moldova’s wine exports. The relationship ended in 2006 when Russia imposed an embargo on Moldovan wines and again in 2013.
  • After the two Russian embargo’s, Moldova’s wine industry pivoted, seeking new export markets and producing wines of quality vs. quantity.
  • Today Moldovan wines are sold in 63 countries with the majority exported to the European Union markets.
  • There are 128,000 hectares (316,295 acres) of total vineyards.
  • Grape varieties are 85% European, 10% Black Sea Basin, and 5% Local
  • 70% are white varieties such as; Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Aligoté
  • 30% are red varieties such as; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Saperavi
  • Local varieties include; Rara, Neagra, Feteasca Neagra, Feteasca Alba, and Viorica
  • There are three Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Moldovan Wine Regions; Codru, Valul lui Traian, and Stefan Voda
Moldova Wine Regions

Map via Wine of Moldova

Wine of Moldova, Exotic Wine Travel

Tasting Notes

Moldovan Wines

Disclosure: the wines were provided as media samples. All opinions are my own.

2018 Fáutor 310 Altitudine Chardonnay/ Feteasca Regala, Moldova
13.3% abv | $18.00 Vinovations (sample) | 60% Chardonnay, 40% Feteasca Regala
Fautor Winery

Pale lemon-green in color. Aromas of lime zest, nectarine, blossom, and wet stone. On the palate, dry, with medium body and medium (+) acidity. Refreshing flavor notes of lime, white grapefruit, and wetstone. A round smooth mouth feel with a lingering lime finish.

2018 Gogu Blanc de Merlot, Moldova
13% abv | $20.00 Vinovations (sample) | Merlot
Gogu Winery

Pale yellow in color. Aromas of white cherries, rose hips, lemongrass, and bell pepper. On the palate, dry with medium body and medium(+) acidity. Flavor notes of white cherries, apricots, bell peppers, and minerals with a medium finish.

2018 Purcari Rara Neagra de Purcari, Moldova
13.5% abv | $30.00 Vinovations (sample) | 100% Rara Neagra
Purcari Chateau

Medium ruby in color. Pronounced aromas of violet, plum, toast, vanilla, and sweet cherries. On the palate, dry with medium(+) body, medium(-) tannins, and medium acidity. Flavor notes of ripe plum, cherries, and vanilla. 

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines

The cheese crostata was a perfect appetizer to pair with the three Moldovan wines. The crisp acidity of the two white wines cleansed the palate from the rich cheese of the crostata. While the overall weight of the wine and crostata were in balance.  The red wine was a match for the crostata’s earthy leeks, kale, and swiss chard. The wine’s smooth tannins mirrored the luxurious texture of the cheese.

Savory Cheese Crostata Paired with Moldovan Wines 2020-09-24T13:22:41-04:00

A Look into the Wines of Moldova


This month’s focus for our Wine Pairing Weekend event takes us to Moldova.  Sadly I had to look up where Moldova was located.  I knew it was somewhere in Eastern Europe and discovered it is located between Romania and the Ukraine, right off of the Black Sea.  Wine really is made everywhere isn’t it.  What was even more shocking is that this was even my first time trying wine from Moldova.  The first record of winemaking there was 3,000 B.C., but since 7000 B.C. wine was used as a reward after fights or exchanged with other items. 

The majority of the wine produced in Moldova is still with about 14% produced as sparkling.  White wines rule the majority at about 70% mostly concentrated in the wine region of Codru.  The rest are red wines that can be found in both central and southern Moldova.  The vitis vinifera vines rule the production with only about 10% being native grapes. 

Moldova has 3 main wine regions including:

  • Valul lui Traian (SouthWest)
  • Codru (Central) 
  • Stefan Voda (SouthEast)

I learned lots of fun facts in my research including that Moldova holds the Guiness record in 2005 for hosting the biggest wine collection, known as the “Golden Collection”.  It is located underground in the Milestii Mici containing 1.5 million bottles with the oldest only being since 1969.  Moldova also has the greatest density of vineyards in the world occupying 3.8% of the territory per Wines of Moldova.

Copyright of Wines of Moldova

The Wines & Wineries 

I received samples from 3 wineries including some local grapes as well as international grapes.   

Chateau VartelyVartely translates to a place of fortress.  The winery is rather newer to the seen established in 2004 located within both the Codru wine region and Valul lui Traian in the Bugeac in southern Maldova.  Their grapes are grown on about 740 acres.  The winery opened themselves up to guests in 2008 at a few villas they have on site. 

I tasted the 2017 Chateau Vartely Feteasca Regala Codru IGP.  Made 100% from the local Feteasca Regala grape.  Straw yellow in color.  Beautiful aromatics of peach and apricots.  A refreshing wine with nice acidity and slight minerality.  With an SRP of $16 this wine is a great value.  13% ABV  

Pairing: I paired this wine with a chicken and broccoli sauté over jasmine rice.  A delightful pairing and complement to one another.

Radicini Winery – This winery is one of the brands under an overarching holding company located in the Codru wine region.  I tasted the 2018 Radicini blend of Saperavi, Merlot and Feteasca Neagra.  Dark ruby with purple highlights.  Medium in body with dense fruit with blackberries and black cherry.  Hints of white pepper with spice.  SRP $20

Gitana Winery – Located within the Valul lui Traian wine region in the two villages of Filipeni and Romanovca of the Leova district.  The Dulgher family purchased the winery in 1999, but the original winery under the name of the Tiganca Winery was established in 1953.  The Gitana brand was created in 2009.  In 2002 the family planted their own vineyards 70km from the Tiganca Winery on hills about 150-200 meters above sea level near the forest.  The family owns almost 900 acres.  I sampled the 2016 Gitana Lupi Rezerva Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Saperavi.  This wine was the first blend created in 2012.  Aged for 2 years in big Slavonian oak barrels and an additional 4-6 months in barrique.  Dark ruby in color with aromas of ripe raspberries both on the nose and palette.  I got a little bit of warmth from the higher alcohol.  Supple, silky tannins with sweet vanilla from the oak on the finish.  SRP $35 ABV 14.5% 

Pairing: I paired both of these reds with grilled steak tips, roasted potatoes, butternut squash with a side salad.  My personal preference was the Gitana Lupi.  I felt the flavors were more layered and concentrated, which I appreciated with the flavors of the steak.   

Don’t stop learning about wines from Moldova. 

A Look into the Wines of Moldova 2020-09-24T13:13:49-04:00

Maidens from Moldova + Summer Suppers


Can you find Moldova on a map? My boys could. Thankfully. But we did cook some Moldovan food back in 2013 during our cooking around the world adventure.

Back then, I made a Moldavan Beetroot Salad which wasn’t a hit, then, but I suspect R’s palate has developed since then! Also, back then, we discovered Sarmale, Moldovan Cabbage Rolls. I’m including the link to that original post because my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf was pretty adorable and helpful. But my updated recipe is shared below with a current wine pairing.

In case you are unfamiliar, landlocked Moldova lies between Romania and Ukraine and consists of hilly grasslands flanked by the Prut and Dniester Rivers. Mostly pastoral lands, Moldova was part of Romania before World War II, and a majority of Moldovans still speak Romanian. Soviets annexed Moldova in 1940, and Russians and Ukrainians settled in the industrial region east of the Dniester (known as Transdniestria). After Moldova gained independence in 1991, Transdniestria seceded, making Tiraspol its capital.

Maidens from Moldova

You might be wondering about the title of my post – Maidens from Moldova. Feteasca means ‘maiden’ in Romanian, the state language of Moldova, and the name of three distinct, indigenous grape varietals: Feteasca Regala (royal maiden), Feteasca Neagra (black maiden), and Feteasca Alba (white maiden).

I received two of the maidens to sample. First was a ‘white maiden’, Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba. You can read more about Castel Mimi from our host, A Moldova Phoenix Story – Castel Mimi; Jeff attended a press trip to Moldova that included Castel Mimi in 2019. What a treat. I’m jealous!

This Feteasca Alba, true to its name, pours a pale – almost white – wine with flecks of green and gold. Fresh garden aromas lean towards citrus and herbs with notes of lemon zest and rosemary. But on the palate the wine is decidedly softer than its scent. I detected more summer stone fruit with a subtle acidity.

With this wine, I opted for a less than traditional pairing. I started with a summer salad dotted with golden kiwis and fresh citrus. And followed it up with poached fish on a bed of lentils, topped with softened onions.

My ‘black maiden’, Feteasca Neagra, was actually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Feteasca Neagra grapes from Fautor Winery.

The bottle told us that the Fautor Winery sits at one of the highest points in southern Moldova, in the Valul-lui-Traian wine region. The topographical map on the label was pretty cool, especially for my map-loving crew.

In the glass, it poured a deep shade of red pomegranate. Aromas of black cherry and a hint of mint were detectable. And on the palate I got cherry with intense flavors of coffee and black pepper as well. This was a rich wine with nicely structured tannins.

Sarmale for a Summer Supper

Moldovan Cabbage Rolls

Since I did a non-traditional pairing with the Feteasca Alba, I decided to revisit our Moldovan cabbage rolls. Besides, I can never resist using vegetables from D’s garden and these cabbage leaves were ripe and ready! Okay, they aren’t the traditional green cabbages, but they are homegrown and were perfect for this summer supper.

Ingredients serves 6

  • 3/4 lb ground lamb (you can also make it with all ground beef).
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika (I used 1 teaspoon hot paprika and 2 teaspoons sweet paprika)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (traditionally, you use raw rice, but I had cooked rice and it cut down on the final cooking time)
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced and 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 1 large head of cabbage, leaves separated and blanched for 1 to 2 minutes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 cup water or a mixture of water and red wine


Heat a glug of olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add the diced onions and cook until softened.

In a medium mixing bowl, place the ground meats, egg, salt, pepper, paprika, and rice; mix until well-combined. I use my hands, but you can use a wooden spoon.

Stir together 1 cup of the tomato sauce and water or water and wine.  And add it to the onion mixture. Add a glug of olive oil and begin to warm the sauce.

After you blanch and drain your cabbage leaves, place a leaf flat on a cutting board or other clean workspace. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of the filling onto the leaf, near the top. Fold the sides of the leaf in and roll as rightly as you can until you get to the stem. Place the rolls, stem side down, into the tomato sauce. Make as many as you can to fill the pot.

Scatter the sliced onions over the rolls, then spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the rolls. Pour in enough water so that the rolls are about two-thirds of the way submerged. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.

Let the rolls braise for at least 90 minutes. Check on the liquid levels about half-way through cooking so that the rolls don’t burn.

Serve hot. I also served Moldovan stuffed peppers along with a salad. The recipe for the peppers will be posting later. Well, that’s a wrap for the #WinePW Moldova event. Many thanks to Jeff for organizing and for Wine of Moldova for sending samples. I don’t know if I would have been able to track down Moldovan wines otherwise. But, after this, I will definitely keep an eye out for wine from Moldova, especially any of these maiden grapes. They were delicious. Cheers.

Wine of Moldova on the web, on Facebook, on Instagram

Maidens from Moldova + Summer Suppers 2020-09-24T13:07:16-04:00

Finally, a grill! Just in time for Moldovan wine pairing


Those of you who follow this blog know I often bemoan the lack of a grill. Now that we live close to family, my rants are over.

For our “quaranteam” of four adults (and one toddler), backyard grilling is a regular activity. Yes, it’s great to have a grill in the family. But what I’m truly grateful for, of course, is being together to share family mealtime.

I’m also grateful to Jeff @foodwineclick who arranged for some of the Wine Pairing Weekend group of bloggers to receive samples of wines from Moldova. We’ll be chatting about these wines Saturday 7/11 at 8 am PT/11 am ET. If you’re reading this post in time, please join us by following the #winePW hashtag.

(Please note that while the wines for this post were provided, opinions are my own.)

Where in the world is Moldova?

Exactly. I asked myself this same question when Jeff suggested this topic after visiting Moldova on a press trip last summer. You can read all about his travels and see amazing photos on his blog.

Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Ukraine on three sides – to the north, east, and south – and by Romania to the west. One of the former Soviet-bloc states, Moldova gained its independence from Russia in 1991 and is now officially named the Republic of Moldova.

Here are some facts I learned about Moldovan wine from my research:

  • Moldova has a long history of winemaking that began around 3000 BC, and traces of grapevines date back to around 7000 BC. Throughout its history, wine and grapes have been deeply rooted in the culture, myths, folklore, and legends of Moldova. Even the map of today’s Republic of Moldova is shaped like a bunch of grapes.
Map courtesy of Wine of Moldova
  • Although relatively small, Moldova ranks among the most significant wine regions of Eastern Europe. Globally, Moldova was 19th among worldwide wine producers in 2018 and has the highest density of vineyards in the world.
  • The country’s moderate continental climate – short winters and long summers – create almost perfect conditions for viticulture. Landscapes vary from steppes in the east, to forested hillsides in the central zone, to the vast Bugeac Plain in the south. This undulating landscape reminds some of the Piedmont and Tuscany regions of Italy.
  • Russia was a major market for Moldovan wines in recent times, until politics raised its nasty head in 2006. Heated negotiations over the disputed territory of Transnistria – and unsubstantiated allegations that resulted from that dispute – led Russia to ban the importation of all Moldovan wines for a time.
  • The country’s economy benefits greatly from wine production, not only from sales but also from a well-developed wine tourism industry.
  • Moldova is famous for its vast underground wine cellars at Cricova and at Mileștii Mici – the latter holds the Guinness World Record for the largest wine collection in the world.
  • In 2013, Moldova adopted the European Union (EU) classification model and now has four Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) zones.
  • Of the total vineyard area, almost twice as much is planted to white versus red varieties.  Once upon a Soviet-era time, farmers had to pull out indigenous grapes in favor of international varieties. Now, the area of vineyards planted to native grapes is increasing.

Sources: foodwineclick,, Wikipedia, Wine of Moldova

The wines and pairings

2018 Purgari Pinot Grigio de Purcari
100% Pinot Grigio

Purcari winery is located in the Ștefan Vodă region of southeastern Moldova. Vines grow on terraces along the Dniester River, plains, and slopes, at an average altitude of almost 400 feet. The moderate continental climate of this region benefits from proximity to the Black Sea.

Typical soils are podzolized (according to Merriam-Webster, “a process of soil formation especially in humid regions involving principally leaching of the upper layers with accumulation of material in lower layers”) and carbonated chernozems (a Russia term to describe black soil rich in carbonates and humus) with clay in some areas. In other words, this is rich and fertile soil. “1827” is the year the winery’s underground cellars were built.

Tasting notes: Pale yellow in color. A grassy nose of pear, melon, and yellow apple. The palate is bursting with medium+ acid, but decidedly not tart. I get pear and lemon-lime with a soft mouthfeel and medium finish. Somebody called this wine more “gris” than “grigio,” meaning closer in style to Alsatian wine from France than to Italian Pinot Grigio. I agree. Alcohol: 13.5%. Average price: $11.

Pairing notes: Ah, the grill – we sprinkled thyme and fresh rosemary over wild salmon fillets and grilled them on cedar planks. So delicious on their own. Compatible with the wine, but not a “wow” moment. Some additional lemon might do the trick.

2015 Cricova “Prestige” dry red blend, Codru
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot

Set among the wooded hills and small river valleys of central Moldova, Codru is the country’s coolest wine zone. Oak and linden forests cover 25% of the landscape protecting the vineyards from northerly winds and frost. Grey forest soils and chernozems (see definition above) are the typical soils here. The region is noted for white grapes, especially Fetească Albă, Muscat Ottonel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. Red varieties can also be grown in warmer microclimates.

Cricova is internationally known for its “underground city.” A labyrinth of tunnels, created from a former limestone quarry, houses 8 million gallons of wine and stretches over a distance of 43.5 miles. The streets of the underground city are named after the wines housed here: Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon etc. Some of the streets are as deep as 262.5 feet below ground, a depth that ensures constant humidity and temperature throughout the year and provides an ideal location for the National Wine Collection. Included in this collection are wines that Herman Goering paid as retribution after World War II, and special vintages from Moselle, Bourgogne, and Bordeaux.

Tasting notes: Ruby in color. A fruity nose of plum and blackberry with a hint of blueberry gives way to an oaky palate with plenty of tobacco and hints of ripe bell pepper and eucalyptus upfront. I get a bit of vanilla on a medium finish. Medium acid. Smooth tannins on this 2015 red blend make it easily quaffable right now. Alcohol: 13%. Average price: $16.

Pairing notes: This pairing was my favorite of the three. The fruity red blend loved the thyme/rosemary grilled lamb sliders, and vice a versa. I try to minimize the amount of meat I consume, but this match was so spot-on I would choose it again and again.

2018 Castel Mimi Fetească Albă, Codru
100% Fetească Albă

The magnificent Castel Mimi (see Jeff’s post for details and photos) was founded in 1893. During the Soviet era, Castel Mimi was converted into a state-owned wine factory. Production was ramped up to provide cheap fortified wine for workers of the Soviet state. The exterior of the massive structure was plastered over to hide its beauty, and the excavated cellar walls were tiled over for easy cleaning. In 2011, the castle was restored stone by stone to its former opulence. Castel Mimi has been listed among the top 14 most beautiful architectural masterpieces of the winemaking world by Vivino.

The grape, Fetească Albă, is grown widely throughout Eastern Europe. Fetească means “maiden” in Romanian and is shared by three distinct varieties named for grape color: Fetească Regala (royal maiden), Fetească Neagra (black maiden), and Feteasca Alba (white maiden).

Tasting notes: Golden yellow in color. Super-flowery aromas dominate the nose with hints of peach and melon. On the palate, it tastes like an entire lemon was squeezed into the glass – fruit, pith, and rind. Slightly tart, medium+ acidity. Medium finish. Alcohol: 13%. Average price: $7.

Pairing notes: My first attempt at pairing the Castel Mimi – with soup from leftover grilled chicken – didn’t work. The store-bought chicken skewers may have marinated in a slightly sweet sauce that competed with this flowery but dry wine. Solution? Cheese, always cheese. A mild cheddar had just the right balance needed for a successful pairing.

These Moldovan wines are excellent value for price, but unfortunately, difficult to find in the United States. One of the organizers of our event – Wine of Moldova USA – is a source to check out.


Written by : Linda Whipple


Finally, a grill! Just in time for Moldovan wine pairing 2020-09-24T13:09:56-04:00

Pairing Moldovan Wine with Burmese Food


Pairing Moldovan Wine with Burmese Food

Ancient wine history

Located between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova is an Eastern European country that has been making wine since 3000 BC.

The first grape vines in the area date back to 7000 BC, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the country adopted the European Union model of protected geographical regions.

Moldovan sparkling wine bottle and glass with red dahlias
The city of Cricova makes the most sparkling wine in Moldova, and the winery of the same name is one of the country’s most renowned. It is located in the wine region of Codru.

4 Grape Growing Regions

These geographical regions have been divided into four major areas with the following characteristics.

#1 Valul lui Traian

  • southwest Moldova
  • warm, dry summers and mild winters
  • soils are leached and carbonated chernozems
  • produces 60% red wine with the remainder as sweet fortified white wine (Pastoral) and full bodied white wine
  • historically known for Trajan’s Walls, built by the former Roman emperor

#2 Stefan Goda

  • southeast Moldova
  • average altitude of 120 meters
  • moderate continental climate with Black Sea influence
  • 450-550 ml rainfall
  • noted for red grapes especially the indigenous Rara Neagra varietal

#3 Codru

  • central Moldova
  • coolest region with wooded hills, slopes and river valleys
  • oak and linden forests protect vineyards from wind and frost
  • noted primarily for white grapes

#4 Divin

  • covers the entire Republic of Moldova
  • produces spirits distilled from wine and aged at least 3 years with oak

Source: Enotourism Guide for the Republic of Molodova, by Wine of Moldova

Gitana winery Rare Neagra red wine with a plate of Burmese chicken curry
Rara Neagra from Gitana Winery is a light bodied red wine with cranberry, strawberry, and some mint notes. With low tannin and light oak, it paired well with everything from spicy to mild and creamy curries.

Where in the world is Moldovan wine?

If you’re having trouble finding Moldovan wines in the US (like I did), they currently don’t export very much of it. Though I expect that to change in the years to come.

In 2018, exports went to the following countries:

BY VOLUME: Poland (14%) / Romania and Czech Republic (13%) / Russian Fed. (12%) / China (10%)
BY VALUE: Romania (15%) / China (13%)/ Poland (12.5%) / Czech (+11.4%) / Russian Fed. (11%)

Pairing with Burmese food

After tasting 3 wines from Moldova, I found them to be food friendly, highly drinkable, and on par with finer Eastern European wines I have tried.

Since Moldovan wines are relatively under the radar to the American market, I chose to pair them with another lesser known cuisine Asian cuisine.

Known officially as the country of Myanmar since 1989, the country is often still referred to by its old name of Burma and the cuisine as Burmese.

Bordered by India, China, Thailand, Laos, and Bangladesh, the cuisine certainly has influences from those countries but still mild enough to pair easily with wine.

While I found the wines to be versatile and actually paired nicely with all the food I made, these were my favorite combinations.

Pairing #1: Sparkling Crisecco with Burmese chicken curry

round plate of Burmese yellow chicken curry
Burmese chicken curry with kabocha squash, carrots, and a thick curry paste made of onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric.

Burmese curries have fewer ingredients and spices than Thai or Indian curries and rely primarily on turmeric, garlic, ginger, and onion for flavor.

Coupled with a dash of coconut cream, I found the curry to sing and dance with the sparkling Crisecco wine that had notes of fresh green apples and toasted nuts.

The bubbles too really cut through the coconut milk and made the curry sizzle.

Pairing #2: Viorica white wine with spicy eggplant curry

Viorica white wine with a plate of chili eggplant

Viorica is an indigenous Moldovan grape and my favorite of the three I tried.

Incredibly aromatic with a peach, pineapple, and floral nose, it tasted of kiwi, citrus, and some fresh herb.

I liked drinking this wine on its own, but it also made a cooling match with a spicy eggplant curry.

Pairing #3: Rare Neagra red wine with split pea fritters

Burmese split pea fritters

These Burmese fritters are a bit like falafels but made with split peas instead of chickpeas and fewer spices.

Seasoned with a generous amount of onion and turmeric, these little crispy patties made for a nice little appeitzer with the Rara Neagra wine.

Another indigneous grape, the Rara Neagra as a red wine was surprisingly easy to pair and even went with spicy food. For that reason, I chose them with the crispy split pea fritters, since fried food is generally paired with sparkling or white wine but these made a warm, cozy match.

Trio of moldovan wine bottles and flute with red dahlias

Overall, I was quite pleased with the quality of the Moldovan wines I taste and especially enjoyed their versatility with food.

I am certain they would pair finely with not just Burmese cuisine but a variety of others.


Written by : Asian Test Kitchen

Pairing Moldovan Wine with Burmese Food 2020-09-24T13:00:15-04:00

Ground Beef Chili with Red Wine from Moldova


Ground Beef Chili with Red Wine from Moldova

Our easy to make, flavorful Ground Beef Chili gets paired with a Saperavi red wine from Moldova. We also got to try a couple more wines from Moldova as part of our exploration of the country’s wines with our Wine Pairing Weekend friends. Disclosure: Wines mentioned here were provided as complimentary samples.

Travel in the typical sense of the world may have come grinding to a halt here in 2020, but we have found wine to be a great way to explore the world these days.

After recent events with my fellow bloggers had me focus on destinations such as Israel, Georgia and other ancient world wines, today our attention turns to Moldova.

Wines from Moldova

I’m pretty good with my geography, but I must confess I definitely had to hop online to see where Moldova is located. Quick answer — the former Soviet republic is located between Romania and Ukraine in Eastern Europe.

vineyard in Moldova

Wine of Moldova courtesy photo.

Wine clearly has an important place in Moldova’s culture and its economy. The winemaking history goes back some 5,000 years, with references in the Iliad to wines from the region. In the Middle Ages, vineyards owners ruled the country, according to the Wine of Moldova site.

Moldova is the country with the highest density of vineyards in the world, with 81,000 hectares planted in the relatively small country. We might not see too many wines from Moldova here in the US, as top destinations for the country’s wine include Romania, Poland and China.

But after more US customers have a chance to try Moldovan wines like we did, I expect there will be more demand for it here!

Some 2% of Moldova’s GDP comes from the wine industry. By contrast, you have to add the beer and spirits industry along with wine to get to 1.65% of US GDP, according to this source.

underground wine collection

Cricova underground wine collection. Wine of Moldova courtesy photo.

Perhaps even more distinctive are the vast underground wine collections to be found in Moldova. One of those, Mileștii Mici, holds the Guinness record for largest wine collection in the world.

Wine of Moldova includes a combination of international varieties and local grape varieties. We got to sample some from both categories, which was fun!

70% of Moldovan vineyards are planted to white grapes such as Rkatsiteli, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Aligoté. Common red grapes planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Saperavi.

For more information, visit the Wine of Moldova website and the articles from my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers — links follow the recipe. Thanks to Jeff from foodwineclick for hosting this event, inspired by his trip to visit wineries in Moldova last year!

Making Ground Beef Chili

bowl of ground beef chili topped with avocado and cheese.

The bottle of Saperavi we were provided to sample suggested pairing the bold red wine with meat or a “spicy stew”.

Our grill is out of commission, so why not try some chili, I thought. Wound up being a great call for a Fourth of July weekend meal, served up with the Saperavi.

I tend to make chili with turkey, as in our Easy Black Bean Turkey Chili. But a ground beef chili seemed to be the way to go with Saperavi.

Our beef chili recipe is definitely one you can play around with based on your taste. This version comes out a medium spiciness, which I like better than full on spice when I want to pair the chili with wine. Check out our video on pairing wine with chili for more on that subject.

You can definitely try varying the fresh chili peppers used, and the combination of spices. After I made this batch of chili, someone suggested adding ginger to it, which I wouldn’t have thought of. Maybe next time!

I wound up with a bunch of extra cooked macaroni recently. Thinking of a Cincinnati style chili, I decided to add some of that. You could definitely skip if you’d prefer.

Chili purists might cringe at the mention of adding a green like kale to the recipe. But if I’m making something spicy like a pot of chili, I figure throwing a bit of greens into the mix adds a bit of additional nutrition without altering the flavor.

You definitely want to let the chili simmer for a good hour or so to let the flavors meld nicely.

Wine Pairing for Beef Chili

We opened the 2017 Gitana Winery Saperavi ($30, 14% ABV) to pair with our chili.

bowl of chili with red wine.

Deep purple in the glass, with violets on the nose. A fruit forward red wine, with cherry and boysenberry on the palate.

The fruit forward aspect of the wine, with moderate tannins, helped make this a wine a good partner for the chili spices. The robust Saperavi has the heft needed to go with the beef. This pairing is definitely a winner that I would recommend!

I didn’t notice until writing this up that the wine is aged in clay amphora, which helps to soften the tannins. 

Gitana Winery is located in the southern part of Moldova, in the Valul lui Traian wine region.

More Wine from Moldova

We are highlighting the Saperavi with our chili today, but we enjoyed trying two other wines from Moldova for this event.

The first wine we opened was the the 2015 Chateau Vartely Individo (14% ABV), a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. We paired it with our Vermont Wagyu Beef Ribeye with Caramelized Onions (meat lovers, you definitely need to check that out!).

platter with ribeye steak and red wine in the background.

The Individo is dark red in the glass with amber notes. Lush berries and bramble on the nose. On the palate, prunes and toffee. Reminds me a bit of an aged Bordeaux. Interesting yet approachable wine. Paired very well with the Wagyu ribeye!

white wine from Moldova with fish and pasta.

On a lighter note, we got to try a white wine made from an indigenous grape, too. The Kazayak Feteasca Regala (12.5% ABV) has lemon peel and hibiscus on nose. On the palate, kiwi and lemon fruit with notes of seashell.

Ground Beef Chili with Red Wine from Moldova 2020-09-24T13:02:34-04:00

Smoked Pot Roast with a Negru de Purcari from Moldova


Pot Roast first slow smoked right on the grate and then placed into a cast iron dutch oven along with vegetables and seasoned braising liquid until fall off the bone tender.  Who says you can’t enjoy Pot Roast in the Summertime?

Welcome to this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend hosted by Jeff of Food Wine Click.  Jeff arranged for some of the members of our group to receive samples from Wines of Moldova.  You can learn more in his Preview Post.

I received two bottles for sampling.  A white made from the indigenous Viorica grape of Moldova and a red considered the king of red wines.  I will be sharing my tasting notes on both wines here in this post as well as with the group when we enjoy twitter chat at 11 am eastern this morning following #WinePW.  We would love to have you join us.

First let’s talk a little bit about Moldova.  Moldova is located in Eastern Europe and was once a Soviet Republic.  It neighbors Romania and  Ukraine.  Moldova has been making wines for over 4000 years.  They are a very popular wine growing region.

Moldova, a "slow" invitation to discover the world of wine ...

Moldova has 3 historical wine regions,Valul lui Traian, Stefan Voda and Codru.  The white wine that I was sent is 100% Viorica, an indigenous grape of Moldova. While popular there it is little known outside of the area.

I poured this wine pool side on a hot, sultry day.  It is bright, clear and crisp.  It smells sweet but is dry and acidic.  The perfect wine to refresh on a steamy day.  I paired this wine with Seafood Biryani and it was a match made in Heaven.

The red wine I sampled was a Negru de Purcari, a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Saparavi and 5% Rara Neagra.  Saparavi is a red grape indigenous to the country of Georgia, which also makes fine wines, but that is a topic for another day.  Rara Neagra is native to Moldova and Ukraine.

This wine is my kind of wine!!!!  It is very smooth and dry with floral notes left on the tongue.  It has pepper and spice on the nose.  It pours a deep purple almost black.  I know that those surprising floral notes did not come from the Cab.  I don’t know which of the other 2 varietals added that dimension but it was lovely.

This wine paired so well with my pot roast that I made on the smoker.  If you have a free day when you are going to be out lounging poolside anyway, consider making this amazing pot roast.  It does take a full day but it is mostly hands off and so very delicious.




Written by : A Day in the Life on the Farm

Smoked Pot Roast with a Negru de Purcari from Moldova 2020-09-24T13:01:22-04:00

Special Celebration and Moldova Wines


This month on #wine Pairing Weekend we are looking specifically at wines from the Moldova, which is located in Eastern Europe.  Although it is a new-to-me area of winemaking, Moldova has been making wine since 3000 BC, and traces of grapevines have been dated to 7000 BC.  The stork carrying a bunch of grapes is the national wine brand image.  Surrounding all these are the myths, folklore, and legends of Moldova.

We received a bottle of this Lupi wine to review.  Let me tell you a little about it.  First, it is a blend of three reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Saperavi.  The area for this wine is Valul Luie Traian. It is is the southwest of the area in a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers and mild winters moderated by the Black Sea. The region is divided into 3 sub-zones: the hills of Tigheci, the Bugeac Plain, and the Prut Terraces and the landscape includes forests, steppe, plains, and plateaux. This is the warmest and driest part of Moldova but also the highest with altitude going up to 310 meters, helping to retain freshness and balance in the wines. The region is particularly noted for red wines which make up 60% of production, but it is also famous for its sweet fortified wines (now called Pastoral) and full-flavored whites.  This red wine we received we decided to save for the special occasion of our 43rd wedding anniversary.
We loved the tasting notes on this wine:  Color: Intense ruby red color Nose: The bouquet is intense, rich, with hints of mixed berries with vanilla aroma, as well as shades of chocolate, coffee beans, and licorice. Taste: Vigorous and robust, well-structured, full-bodied and balanced. An intense and complex taste with powerful tannins, and a pre-long after-taste that amplifies its elegance. Oily with marked aromas of black fruit, ripe plum, cassis and blackberry.  We loved this little teaser: try it with a piece of dark chocolate and a cigar.
We paired this deep wine with these beautiful cowboy ribeye steaks, prepared perfectly by my husband.  His steaks are so delicious we haven’t been to a real steak house in years, as no one has prepared a steak like his.
So why did we save this wine for such a special celebration?  We knew we would be eating steak, so we wanted a wine that could make a good show against Bob’s beautiful steaks.  The ruby color, the deep flavors, and an interesting background gave us all that we wanted for our anniversary dinner.  The wine accented the beef and then stood its own ground by offering the juicy berries, powerful tannins and a long, complicated, and delicious aftertaste that kept us wanting more.  We were heartily disappointed when we finished this bottle.
As is typical after a delicious meal and one that celebrated our anniversary, my husband did enjoy a good cigar (another of his passions) and a nightcap of his favorite bourbon.
Written by: Terri Steffes
Special Celebration and Moldova Wines 2020-09-24T12:08:19-04:00