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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Learn more about Moldovan wine and food pairings
Celebrate National Moldovan Wine Day with these posts from the Wine Pairing Weekend writers:
Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Two Indigenous Moldovan Grapes – Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră – Paired With Colțunași Harnici (Hard-Working Dumplings)”
Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm is “Celebrating the Food and Wine of Moldova”
David from CookingChat has “Food Pairings for Moldavan Wines”
Lori from Exploring the Wine Glass shares “Sitting Down with Master of Wine Caroline Gilby to Discuss Moldovan Wine”
Terri from Our Good Life shares “Moldova Wine Day Celebration!”
Linda from My Full Wine Glass is “Celebrating ‘My Wine Day’ and the little country that could”
Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Moldovan Wine – moving forward while not losing track of the authentic grapes of their past” #WorldWineTravel
Susannah from Avvinare writes “You say Feteasca and I’ll Say Moldova”
Jennifer at Vino Travels tells us about “Eye Openers to the Wines of Moldova”
Melanie from Wining With Mel is “Exploring new territory with Moldovan wines”
Jeff from foodwineclick asks the question “Are Local Grapes the Future of Moldovan Wines?”
Lynn at Savor the Harvest I share “Moldovan Native Wine Grape Discoveries” #WorldWineTravel
Jill from L’Occasion discusses “Wines of Moldova: Worth the Adventure”
Payal from Keep the Peas pairs “Kashmiri Yakhni Pulao and Moldovan Wine”
Nicole from Somms Table is “Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with More Food and Wine Explorations”
Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Celebrate Moldova National Wine Day – Exploring Native Varieties”
Liz Barrett from What’s In That Bottle shares “Moldova National Wine Day is Here!”
Pinny from Chinese Food And Wine Pairings tells us about “Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with Chinese Food”
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator shares "Meet Moldova: 2018 Purcari 1827 Rara Negra de Purcari Vin Sec Rosu Paired with Pizza #WorldWineTravel "
Nicole Ruiz Hudson says
Looks like fun food explorations to distract from the fires. I absolutely feel you on the smoke. It was oppressing here too.
Thanks Nicole! Hope you're coping with the smoke as best as possible too!
Going vegan with your pairings speaks to a wide audience- tasty dishes Deanna! You made me laugh with your "...gas fireplace..." comment. But curling up with a cozy glass of Moldovan red wine is tops. I could do that with the three I had as well.
Aww thanks Lynn! Nice to hear you enjoyed the wines too!
Linda Whipple, CSW says
Smoke! I hear you - we had over a week of smoky days in the Seattle area. Really appreciate your humor, though, and the vegan dishes and white wine pairings sound spot-on. Let's hope we all can enjoy "quaint towns and green pastures" soon.
Yes, I hope so too! Thank you so much Lynn for reading!
Your description of the Feteasca Alba is spot on! What a great way to describe it. It is a food wine, I could not finish a glass on it's own. But with food, it sings. We enjoyed it with ceviche. All of your pairings look stunning.
I am hoping that the smoke in your air dies down a bit. Stay safe!
Thank you Robin! Ahhh ceviche, sounds just wonderful and something I would do too if I can get another bottle!