Cheap and rather good, you should not visit Romania without trying a decent-sized sample of its various forms of booze. Best known internationally for its cheap yet good wine, Romania also offers some very strong spirits.
The story of the Romanian wine industry is a long and complicated one. In short, it was very good, then the communist regime ruined it through under-investment and over-production, and now, back in private hands, it is improving apace. Almost two per cent of Romania’s total agricultural land is given over to vineyards, making Romania one of the world’s top 10 wine producers. As a general rule the best whites are made in the north and in Transylvania, while the country’s best reds are made in the south. There are many exceptions, however.
The best known wine making regions in Romania are Dobrogea (reds) and Murfatlar (which makes good reds and decent whites) in the south east, Dealul Mare around Buzau (which makes excellent reds, probably the country’s best, in fact),Tarnava in central Transylvania (whites) and Cotnari (whites) in Moldova. In the west, the deep reds of the Recas vineyards have an increasingly loyal following.
While Romania grows (very well) international varieties of grape from Sauvignon Blanc to (some extraordinarily good) Merlot, the country also boasts a number of excellent native grapes. The best local varieties are probably the noble, blackcurrant-tingedFeteasca Neagra (red), Feteasca Alba (white), Feteasca Regala (white) and the aromatic, honey-like Tamaioasa Romaneasca (white).