Romania offers some of the most suitable conditions for growing high-quality wine grapes in the entire world, and it is thought by many historians that it is home to some of the earliest traces of human winemaking.
Today, there are seven major regions that make up the wines of Romania, each with its own unique history and indigenous grapes.
Exploring the Wines of Romania
Romanian Wine History
The geographical area that now consists of Romania and its surrounding countries is thought to be one of the oldest wine-producing regions on planet earth.
Romania shares many important factors such as latitude and climate with some of the most famous French wine regions.
These similarities with some of France’s most important wine regions highlight the fact that Romania offers some of the best natural winemaking conditions in the entire world. It is thought that humans have been producing wine in the area for at least six thousand years.
While Romania is still home to an array of indigenous grape varietals, there were far more in existence prior to the spread of phylloxera in the 1880s. This led to a large infusion of French wine plantings, as well as grape varietals known to be resistant to insects.
Despite multiple civilizations thriving, falling, and changing during the last 6,000 years, it is thought that wine production has continued virtually without interruption during that time.
This is especially impressive when coupled with the fact that phylloxera devastated the area for years.
As the country’s name might suggest, the area that is now the country of Romania was a part of the Roman Empire for hundreds of years.
The area’s rich wine history paired with the Roman’s notorious love of all things wine solidified the beverage as a part of everyday life.
During the Middle Ages, the area came under attack by multiple different crusaders and changed hands multiple times. Wine and Christianity were two of the main elements that locals latched onto to preserve and maintain their culture.
More recently, Romania was under Communist rule for nearly 50 years, during which time the state controlled all the area’s wineries and dictated the production of wine.
The focus during this period was on quantity over quality, and most of the finished product was shipped to the USSR.
The 1990s marked a transition period for the Romanian wine industry, as the country began the complicated process of returning state-run vineyards to the original owners as private property.
Over the decade, local winemakers worked hard to improve the quality of the area’s wine.Today, Romania produces a mixture of both historic local grape varietals and world-famous wine grapes.
The future looks bright for Romania as a wine-producing region, as the quality of wines, in general, continues to increase every year as the world continues to discover Romanian wines.
Romanian Wine Regions
The majority of Romanian wine produced today is done so in seven different wine-producing regions.
Each region is home to different historic indigenous Romanian wine grapes, and those local grape varietals still in existence are often planted alongside major French wine grapes.
The Transylvanian Plateau is located in central Romania and is surrounded by mountains on all sides.
While the area is best known worldwide as the home of Dracula, the area is home to multiple DOCs that produce some of the best wine in all of Romania.
Recas Castle Feteasca Regala is a white wine blend from the Transylvanian Plateau that is as easy to drink as it is affordable.
Best enjoyed as a summertime wine, this bright and fruity white wine has notes of beach on the nose and a balanced taste that is clean and refined.
Hills of Moldova
This vast Romanian wine region produces both red and white wines, many of which are made using local indigenous wine grapes.
Rosé wines are also produced in the Hills of Moldova, making this one of the most versatile wine regions in the entire country of Romania.
Cotnari Grasa de Cotnari is one of the most recognizable dessert wines from the country of Romania, and it has received many different awards including the Asia Wine Trophy and Berlin Wine Trophy.
At around $10 per bottle, it is a fantastic value on quality Romanian dessert wine.
Hills of Munteniei and Oltenia
The Hills of Munteniei and Oltenia are renowned as some of the best areas for high-quality wine production in Romania.
Everything from climate conditions to sun exposure and soil quality makes these regions absolutely ideal when it comes to growing fantastic wine grapes.
Crama Oprisor Smerenie is a rare red blend that features big and bold flavors rarely found in a bottle of wine under $30.
It has been awarded several scores in the low 90s from wine critics around the world and is one of the most recognizable bottles of Romanian red wine.
Hills of Banat
Located in the southwest corner of Romania, the Hills of Banat wine region is a very small wine region that is best known for sweet wine production.
Dry white wine is also produced in the Hills of Banat region, as well as a small amount of sparkling wines.
Jidvei ‘Grigorescu’ Gewurztraminer is a unique bottle of white Gewurztraminer that is both aromatic and bright on the palate. At under $15 per bottle, this is a fantastic bottle for adventurous wine enthusiasts on a budget.
Hills of Crisana and Maramures
Located on the northwest side of Romania, the Hills of Crisana and Maramures region is one of the most versatile wine regions in all of Europe.
Everything from affordable everyday wines to upscale high-quality selections is made here, and nearly every wine style is available as well.
Weingut Edgar Brutler ‘Grunspitz’ is a rare white wine blend of local Romanian grape varietals that is readily available and popular across the United States and Europe.
This wine punches above its weight at $20 per bottle and makes for a great surprise at parties.
Hills of Dobruja
The Hills of Dobruja is located in the southeast corner of Romania and are one of the sunniest areas in the entire country.
The climate here is warm and the summers are long, allowing wine grapes to fully ripen and giving the wines a distinct taste and finish.
Ammos Red Wine is a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that is both deep in color and bold in taste. There is a light hint of oak on the palate, as well as noted of black fruit like blackberries and plums.
The terrain of the Danube Terraces varies greatly throughout the region, leading to many different microclimates and a vast array of wine styles.
There is two DOC designations in the region, where some of the highest quality wines are produced.
Made up of a unique blend of 10% Feteasca Neagra, 40% Merlot, and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, Alira Tribun 2018 is one of the best bottles of red wine from the Danube Terraces.
There is a touch of French oak on the wine, leading to a refined finish and layered taste.
Romanian Wine Grapes
The two most important local wine grape varietals in the country of Romania are both variants of the Feteasca grape.
Feteasca Alba and Feteasca Regala are both wine grapes local to Romania that have been grown in the region for thousands of years.
Wines made from the Feteasca Alba grape are known to be both crisp and fruity, and many wine enthusiasts report tasting notes of tropical fruit and melon.
The grape has naturally high levels of sugar, leading to complex wines with relatively high alcohol content.
Feteasca Regala is a light-skinned white grape that is one of Romania’s most famous wine exports. While small quantities are produced in Moldova and Slovakia, Romania is the home of the Feteasca Regala grape and is responsible for over 90 percent of worldwide production.
French Wine Grapes
While Romania has historically been home to a large variety of local wine grapes, today there are a large number of worldly grape varietals being grown in the country.
This is partially due to the phylloxera epidemic wiping out a large number of local Romanian grapes.
The country of Romania is home to many different wine regions that share latitudes with some of the most famous French wine regions in the world.
This makes Romania one of the most suitable places outside of France to produce some of the world’s most famous grapes.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir all thrive in many different Romanian wine regions, and many French wine grapes are also included in some of the country’s most iconic red and white blends.
Wines of Romania – Conclusion
Romania is one of the best and most historic wine regions in the entire world. There is evidence to suggest that wine grapes have been produced in the Romania area for at least 6,000 years without interruption.
There are seven primary regions where most of the country’s wine is produced, each with its own wine styles and microclimates. Romania is also home to many unique wine grape varietals that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.