Speaking about grapes, winemaking is an inalienable element of Moldovan culture. Moldova is the proud owner of some of the largest wine cellars in the world, featuring a fine collection of wines. The underground kingdom at Milestii Mici was actually registered in the Guinness book for its size and its impressive collection, counting up to two million bottles. This wine maze is situated in galleries that were excavated as a result of lime mining operations during the 70-es of the last century. The total length of the galleries make up to 200 km, out of which, more than 50 km are used. The depth varies from 40 to 85 meters. Pretty cool, huh! One can visit it, taste its remarkable wines and enjoy the delicious national cookery served there.
Another large winery is Cricova winery that also consists of many underground tunnels, passages and rooms (130-km/80 mi.). Every tunnel is like a city street bearing the name of the brand of wine produced there. These wineries are situated under a thick layer of soil in the limestone rock. Due to its placement, the temperature is constant all year round - 12-14C or 10 F, humidity being 79%. Such conditions are very favorable for filtering and preserving the wine.
However, this is not all there is. Call upon any village house and you'll be welcomed with a glass of glinting homemade wine. Made by the host himself or herself, it is the object of his/her pride. So, do not rush to refuse the hospitable treating, or you may hurt the host's feelings. Yet, keep in mind, after the first glass you will be offered another one, and… another one, and… another one, and so on… In fact, wine consumption here gets pretty intense. So, it’s up to you.
There are lots of legends connected with wine. One of them says that many years ago, there was a Moldavian fortress besieged by enemies. The defenders of the fortress had to fight for their lives, but after several weeks they ended up without water. The thirst was draining their forces, while the enemies were celebrating their victory – in a matter of hours they will be able to climb the walls of the fortress. But a miracle happened: the sky became dark as a flight of storks, each of them carrying a cluster of grapes, flew across. When over the besieged fortress, the storks dropped the grapes to its defenders. Having their thirst quenched the warriors rushed to fight the enemies with renewed forces. They prevailed and the image of a stork holding a cluster of grapes became the symbol you will see on the bottles of Moldovan wines.
Since the wine is made in the fall season and everywhere you look there is a luxury of colors, the majority of weddings in Moldova are celebrated in autumn. People party with new wine and plenty of fruits and vegetables, but…enough about wine. I’m dizzy already from writing about it.