December is the Season of the Nutcracker – the famous ballet by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky was commissioned in 1891 to write this for the St. Petersburg Opera, but it was many years before the ballet was performed outside of Russia. The ballet was based on the story of “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by Hoffmann, a Prussian. The original story was very bleak, meant for adults, but the cleansed version is now loved throughout the world as a children’s fairy tale.
It seems highly appropriate, then, that Soviet wines are a good topic to discuss! While the post-Russian republics are not well known for wines in most countries, they actually have quite a few vineyards and a wide variety of wines. They only export a small percentage of this wine, though, so it is rare that a typical wine drinker has tried one of these wines.
The most prolific wine-region in this area is the Republic of Georgia. This region has a long history of winemaking, dating back to 5000BC. There are some who even feel the word “wine” is originally a Georgian word! Set beside the Black Sea, Georgia has a great climate for winegrowing.
Georgia creates over 500 styles of wine, but they are very well known for their semi- sweet and late harvest wines. Khvanchkara is shown in its distinctive ceramic bottle; another well known brand is Kindzmarauli, Castel Georgia.
Moldova is another republic that creates good wines. The fertile pastures and sloping land are almost ideal for winegrowing. Two names to watch for from this republic are Mileshti and Krikova-Veki.
The Ukraine is well known as the “Breadbasket of Europe,” and it also has vineyards planted in the southern regions of the republic. In addition to red and whites, they make a variety of sparkling wines, such as this Krimskoye sparkler made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tags: holidays, nutcracker, Republic of Georgia, russian wine, tchaikovvsky, wine