It is the home raised animals, the fresh fruits and vegetables in the garden, the family all together, the ambiance of the music, and especially the wine that makes this culture so special and unique. Moldovan wine is all-natural, sweet, homemade, family-made, and delicious. Not all bottles materialize into masterpieces. In fact, many families will discard entire barrels or bottles of wine if it is not up to par. Furthermore, guests have the uncontested right to refuse to drink a bad glass of wine, siting that the contents can give them stomach ulcers. Whether this is in fact true, it is a cultural norm and everyone abides to it. The wine process is timely and exhausting but the finished product, of the right hands and minds, is extraordinary. I have examined and contributed in this process with my very eyes and arms and the effort alone is to be celebrated. Special thanks to the Gargaun family of Leova, Moldova for the special opportunity.
Walk with me through the process:
Photos of our day wine-producing in Leova, Moldova:
Andrei, Vitalie’s brother-in-law, weighing the grapes on the scale (cantarul). Assisting him is the grape farmer, Vitalie’s second cousin in Sarata Noua, Moldova.
Vitalie, on the left, is cranking the crusher (zdrobitor) as I am pushing the grapes down through the funnel to make the process easier on his forearm.
The grapes move through the zdrobitor on their way to a massive wooden barrel where they are then removed from their stems and juiced further.
The juice from the barrel is called must. It is incredibly sweet. The must is filtered through a colander and placed in a bucket for transport to the larger barrels in the cold wine cellar in the basement of the garage.
The formula for the fermentation’s process is: sugar, added to yeast yields alcohol and carbon dioxide. The yeast, added to the grapes converts the natural sugars contained in the grapes (glucose and fructose) into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then released from the wine mixture into the air and the alcohol remains. (Sourced: virtualwine.com) Vitalie told me that he turns and mixes the wine in its barrel to help the process of the fermentation, creating a smoother, better-tasting wine.
Enjoying the fruits of our labor: chicken, salsa, bread, soup, and of course a bottle of aged red wine.
The Final Product.