Mamaia Beach on Romania’s Black Sea coast is one of my favorite places to both work and play. Though I prefer the northern coastal area, the sandy beaches that have been immaculately manicured wind southward for a good 75 miles. The Black Sea lifestyle suits my pace, and Romanians know how to enjoy life.
Romania has been producing wines for some 6000 years. The region boasts that it has one of the world’s oldest wine making traditions. Due to the multi-varieties of wine and affordable prices, Romania is now one of the world’s largest wine producers.
Today I am once again joined by long-time friend and fellow sommelier, Valeria Dadiani.
“I haven’t seen you since our last trip to Moldova,” I smiled in fond reflection. “I see that you have already begun working on your tan. You know how I love sailing and the sea,” Valeria’s eyes crinkled softly as she smiled. “Are you ready to enjoy some great summer wines?”
On a warm sunny day there are few wines more refreshing than a bottle of rose. Pairing rose wines includes endless possibilities. This is a versatile wine that can be served with almost any type of meal.
“Valeria, what cheese do you prefer to serve with a rose?”
“With a dry rose, I often go with goat cheese,” she paused to collect her thoughts. “The cheese’s tangy flavor pairs well with wines that are bright and acidic.”
“I would also go with a soft goat cheese.”
“Rose also pairs nicely with fresh vegetables, seafood dishes such as grilled tuna, shrimp, and salmon,” she smiled anticipation.
“I see that you ordered our salmon poached,” I nodded in approval.
“Just the way you like it,” Valeria was quick to show her pleasure.
“One of your favorites,” Valeria chuckled lightly. “I remembered your penchant for Spanish asparagus.
“It was my grandfather who encouraged me to eat asparagus. He loved it grilled and claimed the best was grown in Navarra,” I smiled in fond reflection.
“Noroc,” Valeria toasted me.
Our first selection was a sparkling wine from Zarea’s Diamond Collection. Zarea is Romania’s premier producer of sparkling wines and our rose was a unique blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Feteasca Negara. Zarea exemplifies both the passion and love that Romanian vintners put into their wines. This semi dry sparkler is produced in the traditional method of bottle fermentation and shows best at about 39 degrees Fahrenheit. The alcohol content is 11.5% with a price tag of $35. With a 100 year history, Zarea has developed an excellent reputation and is recognized both nationally and internationally.
“Americans,” Valeria chuckled under her breath. “You drink everything too cold. I’d serve this wine at 43 degrees Fahrenheit.”
“You’re sure you converted correctly from Celsius,” I toyed playfully.
Our next wine was a stylish pink in color, and made from a noble grape that is one of my favorites, Pinot Noir. The nose on our Paris Street Rose 2012 was filled with floral aromas and accented by the subtle hint of violets. On the palate, our wine was well-round with ripe red- berry flavors. This is an enjoyable and versatile wine that when served chilled, pairs nicely with veal, chicken, or salmon. The alcohol content is 12.5% with a price tag of $15.
“This wonderful wine comes from our Dealu Mare region, which is quite similar in latitude and climate to Burgundy,” Valeria was quick to add. “Perhaps that is why I appreciate it so much.”
“There’s definitely a French accent on this one,” I paused on the moment. “What would you say is the best serving temperature?”
“Definitely 58 degrees Fahrenheit,” she replied flatly.
“I would have gone with 54 degrees,” we both broke out into laughter.
Our last selection, Monser Busuioaca de Bohotin is a lovely sweet wine from the Dealurile Husiului region. Monsur prides itself in that their wines reunite only pure Romanian varietals and are truly representative of the country’s vine growing tradition. It is also interesting to point out that in the past, only the old bourgeois, and not the peasants, were producing wines of any quality. The “La Belle Epoch” is emphasized by the motto on Monsur’s labels, “Soiruri pure Romanesti pentru boieri si obrazuri subtri,” which translates as “Pure Romanian varieties for the bourgeois and thin cheeks.”
“Your Romanian has certainly improved,” Valeria nodded in approval.”
Valeria chuckled softly as she poured us another glass. Our Monser proved to be an excellent choice to pair with desserts. The bouquet is fragrant and filled with honeysuckle. It is elegant and sweet on the palate, and sure to enhance your choice of delectable. It is best served chilled at about 53 degrees Fahrenheit. The alcohol content is 12.5% with a price tag of $15.
“This wine and grape varietal are unique to my country,” Valeria proudly added.
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We are proud that it produces such lovely and well-balanced rose ranging from medium to sweet.
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“I also picked up some ripe peach and just a hint of almond on the nose,” I nodded in approval.
“The sun is setting,” Valeria reached across the table for my hand. “Shall we stroll down to the beach for a moonlight swim?”
I flashed her an even grin, and anticipated the moment yet to come … “But that my friends is another story … “