If you're the type of person who uses lists to organise your travels and priorities, at the top of "to see", "to do", "to visit" and "to drink" in Moldova, there will be the same word every time: wine.


Wine, wine, wine. It's quite the thing here. Wine production is the most important contributor to Moldova's economy and accounts for roughly a quarter of its GDP (facts!). The vines have been around for thousands of years, but it is only after the second world war that gigantic abandoned limestone mines started to be used for the storage of wine. Conditions in there, temperature and humidity, are "just right". The two main wine cellars are Milestii Mici, and Cricova, incidentally, the two biggest underground cellars in the world! I visited the later, Cricova, being the only one where you can take little train-tour inside the cellar. But if you have your own car, you can drive around which ever sounds nicest to your ears.

The cellar of Cricova is almost a city underground. There are "street" names, mainly types of grapes and wine, that will guide you on your way. But even with light-up signs, it is easily imaginable that tourists without a guide could lose themselves for days, were they to wander through these dark alleys of barrels and bottles. Hence the amusing (and probably completely false) story according to which cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin lost himself, drunk, in these tunnels and was nowhere to be seen for two days - which you might have heard from the Moldova Podcast's song. What is definitely not made up, is that Yuri did visit these cellars and even graced the guest book with a little autograph in 1966.

A day out at one of Moldova's wine cellars is very enjoyable, although I don't really remember that much after the wine tasting. A bit of a blur to be honest. What is certain is that I was in no state to record a little video that afternoon. So it's once back in Chisinau, after a recovery period that I came by a Milestii Mici shop in the capital and recorded a little "catch" by a certain Henry. A catch being the musical equivalent of a tiny glass of Moldovan bubbly. Light, tasteful, and quickly consumed.


Wine, wine, wine and wine - check !