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