#26: Moldova

Orietto, Pinot Grigio

Year: 2015
Grapes: Pinot Grigio
Producer: Orietto
Alcohol: 12.5%
Source: Mike and Kate Smith

Purcari, Freedom Blend 1827

Year: 2014
Grapes: Bastardo (60%), Saperavi (35%), Rară Neagră (5%)
Producer: Purcari Chateau
Alcohol: 13.5%
Source: Livvy's parents, as a birthday present

We drank our Moldovan wine – both bottles of it – a couple of weeks ago in our tiny back garden, with my friends Alex and Pavlina (also mentioned in this post!), who I hadn’t seen since they went off travelling in early 2016. It was warm enough to stay outside all evening, so we ordered pizza, turned on the fairy lights, and settled in for a long-overdue catch-up.

Background music came courtesy of my laptop and Liv’s phone, and kicked off with a run-through of our rapidly expanding wedding playlist. As I type this, we’re at 72 songs and 4h38m of music, and I expect both numbers to increase substantially over the next 6-8 weeks, leaving us with the daunting task of whittling it back down to a manageable selection before the big day.

I say daunting, but what I really mean is ‘hugely enjoyable’. After all, this is an exercise that involves:

  • Making a long-list of awesome things
  • Studying it
  • Agreeing selection criteria
  • Ranking (and re-ranking) items
  • Debating the last few spots
  • Ordering the final list


I’ve been mildly obsessed with ranking things (not a typo) since I was a teenager. Give me an opportunity to devise an arbitrary scoring system and apply it with gleeful rigour to a group of songs, movies, restaurants or sportspeople, and there’s very little chance that I won’t take it.

This will not exactly come as news to many (most?) of you who know me – certainly not to my immediate family, the members of which I imagine nodding in weary acknowledgement as they read this. They may well be thinking about Christmas 2013, when I insisted on devoting a substantial portion of the day to the ‘Desert Island Discs’ I’d badgered each of them into compiling over the preceding weeks.

School friends may cast their minds a little further – all the way, in fact, to the Year 10 History trip to Ypres. We travelled to Belgium by coach, and a group of us spent the majority of that journey trying to crown Britain’s greatest ever sportsman (or sportswoman). The scoring took hours, and involved a retrospectively embarrassing number of arguments. Two camps quickly emerged – one favouring Daley Thompson, the other Steve Redgrave – with neither prepared to give ground in defence of their chosen hero. In the end, we had to settle on a compromise candidate, which is how Torvill and Dean came to top the standings that day. It says a lot about the transformation of British sport over the last 20 years that the ice dancing duo didn’t feel like such a ridiculous choice at the time…

More recently, I’ve pestered my Dad to put together all-time cricketing XIs, created fantasy setlists for at least three different bands, and polled my friends on everything from types of ice lolly to varieties of cheese. I have log-in details for websites with names like SurveyMonkey and PollDaddy, because the Internet really is a wonderful place. One of the first things Liv and I did when we moved into our new place was put together a ‘favourite books’ shelf above our bed, chosen (methodically, painstakingly) from our respective collections.

All that said, I’d like to think I tack to the right side of the line that separates geeky from obsessive. I’m not Rob from High Fidelity – not yet, anyway. There’s just something very therapeutic about applying oneself to the mental task of sorting things into a clear order – and on the flip side, a sort of pure, giddy enjoyment to debating that order with other people. Very few of us are sufficiently placid by nature to sail through life without the need for an occasional rant or verbal dust-up. It’s one of several ways in which most of us let off steam. I prefer to keep those arguments as trivial and boisterous as possible, whether that means mounting a passionate defence of Steve Redgrave’s Olympic credentials or extolling the virtues of Camembert over Brie and Twister over Solero.

When it comes to the wedding playlist, I anticipate only the fun kind of conflict. Right now, it’s full of music we both love, from songs and artists we’ve discovered together to those that one of us has introduced to the other. At some point in September we’ll sit down with a spreadsheet and some decent speakers – maybe even a challenge wine – and decide whether to keep ‘Maria’ by Blondie or ‘Shake It Out’ by Florence & the Machine. Whether Taylor Swift should be represented by ‘Shake It Off’, ‘Blank Space’, or both. How many Genesis songs is too many.

It’ll take ages, the final selection will change at least a dozen times, and we’ll each have to give ground in the face of the other’s stubborn, patently nonsensical attachment to some nostalgic childhood favourite*.

I can’t wait.


Wine Info

From the Tanners listing:

'Fresh, dry and crisp white with good lemony fruit and easy, accessible style.'

From the Purcari website:

'The expression of the free spirit, a courageous blend, full of character, from three indigenous grape varieties. It has the heart of Georgia, the terroir of Moldova, and the free spirit of Ukraine.

The intense ruby color and almond accents produce a complex bouquet dominated by cherries, blackberries, and currants, complemented by dried plums, red pepper, and savory notes of moist wood and leather. The full and fruity taste captures the elegance and refinement, and gives a velvet aftertaste.'

Wine Verdict


The Orietto matched the occasion, location, and weather perfectly! Fresh and sunny, we drank it while we waited for our pizzas to arrive, over antipasti, crisps and dip. There was nothing complicated about the flavours, and it was more of a thirst-quencher than a wine to linger over, but sometimes that's all you want from a summer white. I would happily drink this one again, especially if it involves being out in the garden with good friends.


The Purcari Freedom Blend was first released as an act of protest against Russian economic and military intervention in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Combining grapes from each of the three countries, it's a spicy, high-alcohol red with lip-smacking tannins and plenty of fruit – just my kind of thing, basically, and even the first, experimental sniffs were enough to bring a smile to my face. As I drank it, I found myself taking longer and longer between sips, trying to savour each one and delay the moment when I'd have to concede that the bottle was empty. Vies with Lebanon for my favourite challenge red to date.



I am beginning to learn that there are two main types of white wine – the sharp, fresh, light kind and the smooth, buttery, creamy kind. This Moldovan white was that second kind and it was wonderful! Pale and soft and almost fizzy, it was ridiculously drinkable! Smooth and delicious with a minerally quality that was softened and enhanced by its richness. It was really very good!

8/10, would definitely drink again

But as good as the white was, this red was better! A rich, dark purple wine that was stuffed full of fruitiness. It had a full-bodied and almost velvety texture that poured across your taste buds and swelled with flavour. The tannins were deliciously soft but managed to maintain their intensity. Fabulous!

9/10, maybe the best red yet


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