Meatless Moldovan Food and Wine

//Meatless Moldovan Food and Wine

Meatless Moldovan Food and Wine

The first weekend in October is National Moldovan Wine Day. Celebrate this oft overlooked and underrated wine country with savory vegan foods.

Disclosure: The wines featured in this post were provided by Wine of Moldova. All opinions are my own.

Ancient wine making tradition

2 Moldovan maps, 1 Moldovan flag and 1 castle photo
Moldova is nestled in between Ukraine and Romania in eastern Europe. As of 2020, they have a population of 4 million, and their native language is Moldovan. According to Britannica, the country’s greatest resources are its fertile soil and climate and more than half their land is arable lending to a rich winemaking landscape.

For a tiny country you may have never heard of in Eastern Europe, Moldova has a rich wine making history that dates back to 3000 BC.

I had previously tried pairing Moldovan wines with Burmese cuisine, however for this edition I thought I would try traditional and vegan friendly fare.

Traditional Moldovan Foods

A search on Amazon yielded few Moldovan cookbooks published in English. Therefore, to learn more about the cuisine, I referenced this Peace Corp’s volunteer’s remembrance of foods she ate while serving in the country.

#1 Placinta – stuffed pastry pies

4 pictures showing the process of making placinta

Pronounced pla-chin-ta, these are a common to go snack consisting of fried bread stuffed with cabbage, potatoes, or homemade cheese known as brinza.

#2 Mamaliga – wet cornbread

Similar to polenta, this is a traditional peasant dish made with water, salt, and cornmeal.

It is common accompaniment at the dinner table and can be served hot like porridge or baked into a moist, sliceable dome and served at room temperature.

#3 Sarmale – stuffed cabbage or peppers

round plate of stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce

Pronounced sar-moll-ayy, these are the cozy little bundles of cabbage or stuffed cabbage rolls or bell pepper baked in oil and stuffed with rice and vegetables.

Moldovan wine pairings

For my version inspired by the three classic Moldovan dishes above, I paired the following vegan dishes with three Moldovan wines.

  • Cabbage rolls stuffed with lentils and brown rice and baked in a rich, wood fired tomato sauce
  • Cornmeal fried yukon gold potatoes
  • Thyme and red wine roasted mushrooms
  • Vegetable stuffed and steamed dumplings

The Winning White Wine

Feteascan alba wine bottle and glass with red flowers in the background
The 2018 Feteasca Alba from Castel Mimi is a fresh white wine with no oak but packs a punch with 13% alcohol.

Of the three Moldovan wines I tried, the Feteasca Alba proved to be the most versatile and food friendly for my vegetable dishes.

On its own, it made my mouth pucker with almost cloying acidity of fresh cut green apples, back of the mouth honeydew sweetness, and bitterness of lime zest and lemon pith.

With food though, it softened considerably and provided just the right touch and weight to balance the sweetness of the tomato sauce and savoriness of the lentil stuffed cabbage rolls.

I also tried this wine with a Hyderabadi vegetable curry topped with dried apricots and a fresh heirloom tomato salsa with blue corn chips. The acidity in the wine held up so pleasantly to a rich Indian curry and still summer ripe, juicy tomatoes.

As for the two Moldovan red wines I tried, they had a nice balance of acid and richness that didn’t quite match with my vegetables, but I would happily enjoy on their own.

The Red Fleshed Red Wine

Molodavn saperavi red wine and glass with 3 plates of food
The 2018 Radacini red wine blend is made from hand harvested grapes: 70% Saperavi, 20% Feteasca Neagra, and 10% Merlot.

Saperavi is one of the few red wine grapes that also has red flesh inside of it instead of white flesh.

The result is a rich, inky dark purple wine. Whereas a New World expression of this grape might have more oak and fruit character, the Radacini version from Moldova still has bright acidity, juicy blackberry notes, and oak aging for just 3 months.

A Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon

Moldovan cabernet sauvignon blend wine bottle and glass
The 2015 Rosu de Purcari is made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 15% Malbec grapes. Aged for 18 months in French oak barriques, the winemaker recommends decanting for 30 minutes prior to serving.

The cabernet sauvignon blend from Rosu de Purcari turned out to be quite the kind of armchair travel one needs in a Covid restricted world.

Curl up with a cozy glass of this velvet textured, dark plum and cocoa dusted wine with a silky finish.

It paired quite nicely with a gas fireplace and smoke from the the real life wildfires raging in nearby Napa and Sonoma counties.

The wines from this small country of Moldova reminded me of quaint towns and green pastures we would all like to escape to someday. In the meantime, we can taste their essence, captured in these bottles, to be enjoyed everyday.

3 moldovan wines with red dahlias in the back



Posted by Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen