Prior to our wine adventures in Moldova, we had gathered wine tasting experience mainly in Germany, where things are pretty straightforward. You enter a winery, you have a look around, then ask the owner(s) if you can taste some wine, and you look as serious as possible during the whole procedure. Finally, you buy some wine (or not). Easy-peasy. Little did we know that in Moldova tasting wine is NOT that straightforward at all.
Arriving in Chisinau (Moldova’s capital) had already been an adventure. On the map in our travel guide, Chisinau looked small, and we were convinced that it would be a matter of minutes to find the hotel. We actually ended up soliciting the help of a taxi driver. The hotel was an enormous villa, run by a young couple, located in the outskirts of the capital. Very nice interior, and since we had arrived quite late, the young couple helped us to order a pizza.
The day afterwards would be wine tasting day. Moldova is the 11th largest wine-producing country in Europa and most of it is exported. Since we were too afraid of never finding the hotel again, Lars and I ordered a taxi. We only told the young driver that we wanted to taste wine. Luckily for us, he knew all the wineries in town and stopped at every one of them, asking the owners if we could taste wine. To our utmost surprise, we were rejected everywhere. What did become clear was that the young man wanted to become a part of our wine tasting adventure. Lars quickly put an end to that and asked him to drop us off at the Cricova winery. Cricova is the biggest and best-known winery in Moldova.
We went to the entrance and there we learned that in order to taste some wine in this or any winery in Chisinau, we had to book a tour beforehand. So, no booking, no tasting, and even worse, no booking, no entrance.
There was only one thing that we could do: go to the shop and buy some wine and then taste it. We bought a bit of everything, but the shopkeeper looked very puzzled when we asked her for a plastic cup. She only had one, and then we sat outside on a bench in the shadow.
Lars tasted his wine like this:
I can assure you that in other countries we do NOT taste wine in this way.
Something unusual; sparkling red wine!
At a certain moment I had become lightly intoxicated and as I was lying on the bench, I thought that taking a picture of the sky above me was an awesome idea.
Anyway, we spent most of the afternoon at Cricova and then called the taxi company again. Different car, but same driver showed up. When we arrived at the hotel, it turned out, we didn’t have to pay anything.
The lessons we learned that day:
- don’t be prejudiced;
- do your research!
- Moldovian wine is awesome!
If you ever end up in Chisinau, check out Crivova!
The morning after:
Time for breakfast!
And time to be on the road again!