Cricova Soviet Red Sparkling Wine

Much to my amazement, this wine is available in the USA. It’s been nearly eleven years since I first had a glass of this stuff; back then, my parents were Peace Corps volunteers in Moldova and welcomed us to their apartment for Christmas with some of this stuff, bread, and salt.If you can get past the packaging – it’s frankly pretty dire, which isn’t a big surprise considering how poor Moldova is, and the whole ‘Soviet’ thing seems designed to cater to Russians living in the USA – this isn’t at all bad for the price. The color is similar to an Australian sparkling red: this isn’t even remotely pink, but rather a rich, dark red with some browning at the rim. The bead is good and steady, the mousse a little anemic but really not too bad. The nose is somewhat simple, basically simple red fruits with a whiff of camphor and toast, there’s really just a bit too much sugar here (but again, consider the target market; Russians like their wines sweet), but the finish is satisfyingly complex, with full tannins, good acidity, and note of clove, cinnamon, and plums.Oddly enough, this stuff should be an absolute smash at Christmas parties: it’s sweet enough for everyone to enjoy, it looks fantastic and festive, and it’s cheap enough to serve with reckless abandon. Still, though, I’d argue that this is secretly better than it has any right to be. It was produced using the traditional method – I’ve visited the winery and yes, they still do things the old fashioned way there – and lurking behind the sugar is a wine of real character, interest, and complexity. Just don’t let the sugar put you off too much – it’s worth it!Cricova
Price: $9
Closure: Cork

4 thoughts on “Cricova Soviet Red Sparkling Wine

  1. It seems to be a deep sparkling wine kind of day – just finished reading a sparkling Shiraz review.

    I’m interested in what the bottle looks like – do you have a photo?

    Thanks for the tip – I’ll ask around to see if anyone has access to this!

  2. I don’t have a photo, but there are a few good pictures here. Your best bet in terms of finding some would be to ask around Russian markets – not sure if there’s much of an emigré community in Ohio, but there definitely is in the New York City area! I bought a case of this stuff from some random shop in New Jersey found via; even with shipping, it’s still pretty cheap. Finally, be sure you like sweet wines before even thinking about going here – this really is designed to appeal to the Russian palate. If you don’t mind Moët White Star Imperial, you probably won’t mind this. 🙂

  3. I’ll have to ask around here in GA for this. I know a shop that has a few sparkling wines from various former Soviet republics, so maybe I’ll have some luck.

    Sounds like it would be an awesome match for a chocolate dessert.

    • Me, I’d serve this with crème brûlée – I don’t know if it’d work with chocolate, but then again I’m not a fan of chocolate with wine at all. Your mileage may vary.

      Cricova have been sparkling wines for a heck of a long time; they make some very good ones indeed, not just cheap and cheerful semi-sweet wines like this. They even sell a $200 wine – it comes in a hand-cut crystal bottle with gold leaf and so on. Very, very pretty. Also very, very unaffordable. 🙂

      Speaking of other ex-Soviet sparkling wines, you’ll probably want to try Krimsekt if you can find it. Don’t be fooled by the name, though – it’s actually produced near Donetsk and not in the Crimea at all. It’s easy to find in Germany where it’s still popular.

      And as long as you’re going for a sparkling wine a day (whoa – that’s got to be hell on your teeth), I’d also recommend Rotkäppchen for kitsch value (it’s from what used to be East Germany – one of the few success stories after the Wall came down, it’s still in production and doing very well) and sparkling wines from Saxony just for sheer weirdness; if you’ve never had sparkling scheurebe, you’re in for, um, an experience with that one. (Read: very much love it or hate it.)

      Good luck with your project!

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