Moldovan wine, an unexpected surprise

Lizet Wesselman - 07/11/2023

Moldovan wine, an unexpected surprise

Lizet Wesselman - 07/11/2023

Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe, has attracted the attention of wine lovers around the world. Moldova has a rich history and tradition in winemaking, and yet chances are you had never heard of it. But Moldovan wine, if you ask me, belongs in the list of most surprising wine countries. In this article, you will read more about Moldova’s amazing wine culture and why this country is gaining recognition as an emerging wine destination.

The rich history of Moldovan wine

Moldova already has a layered culture as a country, but its wine culture in itself is also impressive. Moldovan wine has been brewed since ancient times. Archaeological finds indicate that viticulture has been taking place in the area for some 5,000 years, making Moldova one of the oldest wine-producing countries! The fertile soil and favourable climate make the country particularly suitable for growing grapes. During the Middle Ages, Moldova was already producing high-quality wine, and the tradition continued to develop into the Moldovan wines produced today.

Wine is deeply woven into Moldovan culture. Besides the large vineyards, there are also many smaller wine producers and lots of home-brewed wines. If you sit at a table with the locals, you will probably be offered a glass of wine from their own production or that of a family member or friend. It also makes little difference whether this is for lunch or dinner (and maybe even breakfast). Wine is part of the country’s hospitality and toasts are made extensively.

Moldovan wine in Western Europe

In the 19th century, Moldovan wine was also very popular in Western Europe. But during the time of the Soviet Union, that popularity declined, which is probably why we in the West know little about Moldovan wine. Despite the fact that investment in Moldovan vineyards did eventually come from the West and the quality only improved, Russia remained the biggest export market for a long time. As Moldova is not part of the EU, it is difficult and expensive to export wine to EU countries. So it only happens in small quantities, which means you have to look carefully for a bottle of Moldovan wine in a liquor store.

International recognition

Moldovan wine has therefore gained international recognition. It has won numerous awards at prestigious wine competitions and is attracting increasing attention from wine lovers around the world. Moldovan wine is not only delicious but also affordable, which makes it all the more attractive to those looking for new wine experiences.

Moldavische wijn

Diversity of grape species

Moldova is known for its diverse grape varieties. Like most wine countries, they have their own grape varieties unique to this region, but some of the better-known grape varieties also grow in Moldova. Some of the most common grape varieties you can find in Moldovan wines are:

Fetească Neagră: A native Moldovan grape that produces powerful red wines with notes of ripe red fruits and spices.

Fetească Albă: Another indigenous grape, but this time for white wine. This grape produces refreshing and fruity white wines. This is one of my personal favourites!

Cabernet Sauvignon: An international favourite that thrives in Moldovan soils and produces wines with excellent structure and depth.

Merlot: Another international variety popular for its soft tannins and juicy, fruity flavours.

Wineroutes and tourism

Wine tourism in Moldova is an emerging trend. More and more tourists are finding Moldova, seeking unique, authentic experiences. The country is not yet overrun by tourists, so this is not very hard to find. Moldovan wine certainly offers an attraction for wine lovers and the tourism industry is responding well to this by offering wine tours through Moldova. As much as 10% of the country is covered with vineyards, some 60% of which are in the Cordu region in central Moldova.

Travellers can visit the picturesque vineyards, explore wineries and taste the various wines Moldova has to offer. The country even has the world’s largest wine cellar, the Mileștii Mici, where you will find an impressive collection of rare and old wines. The wine tours often offer a combination of both these mass production companies and the small, traditional vineyards where you sit down with the owners and get all the time you need to learn more about the family business and wine traditions in Moldova.

Winetrip to Moldova

For me, Moldova is definitely on the list of most surprising wine countries and I would go back for a nice wine trip in no time. And precisely because the country is not yet so overrun by tourism, this trip is almost automatically a beautiful, sustainable one. The visits to small-scale, local vineyards are local experiences that support local people. Partly because of your visit (and perhaps the purchase of a bottle of wine), they can keep their wine production going. Moreover, you will find few chain hotels or restaurants in Moldova, another advantage of a country with little tourism. This makes choosing a sustainable, local hotel or restaurant quite easy.

Did you know you can even travel to Moldova by train? It’s a long way away, though, so you need to take your time. But you can take a route to Moldova on a number of overnight trains. Stay tuned, soon there will be a mini travel guide with the full train route to Moldova, so you can make your trip to Moldova even more sustainable. (In the country itself, public transport is scarce, so it’s best to rent a car).