Saturday, October 3, 2020

Celebrating the Food and Wine of Moldova #WorldWineTravel

I received tasting samples of wine for this event.  I received no monetary payment.  All writings and opinions are my own.

 I am excited to have you join us today for the first event of a new project called World Wine Travel.  WWT is a group of wine lovers that will be exploring wines of the world.  You will recognize many of the participants if you are a regular reader.  


Many of us also belong to Italian FWT, Wine Pairing Weekend, and the French Winophiles. These events occur on the first, second and third Saturdays of each month.  That left a Saturday.  A week without wine?!  We can't have that, so Jeff of foodwineclick began World Wine Travel where we will be virtually travelling the world, tasting the wines, experiencing the food and culture and sharing our travels with our readers.

This weekend we are travelling to Moldova where they are celebrating "My Wine Day".  Won't you join us?

Lynn of Savor the Harvest is hosting this month.  Lynn not only invited us to join her in the fun but she also arranged for us to get samples of Moldovan wine to taste and review.  These wines were provided by VINovations who is the online retailer for the USA.

We all sampled our wines and some of us also paired the wines with food.  We are going to be sharing our findings with you tomorrow, Sunday, October 4th on Twitter Chat at 11 AM ET.  You can find us by following #WorldWineTravel, #wineofMoldova or #MoldovaWineDay.  

Here are the topics we will be discussing:

Wine with dinner plate

One of my favorite things about travelling, whether live or virtually, is exploring the culture through food.  In previous years, if I were travelling to Moldova, I would be smack dab in the middle of a huge festival where they would be celebrating "My Wine Day".  This year, due to the pandemic, it is looking a little different.  You will find no stands, no crowds, no festival, no dancing.  They are still celebrating though, just a little differently.  Individual wineries will be having special programs that include tastings, food pairings and music.  

Map of Moldova

This map, courtesy of, shows this small country surrounded by Romania and Ukraine.  The food, of course, is reminiscent of both countries.  Normally over 150,000 people would be visiting Moldova this weekend in celebration of National Wine Day.  The villages of Moldova exist because of wine, having the most land dedicated to vineyards than any other place in the world according to this article from Food & Wine magazine.

Stuffed Cabbage

Having married into a Polish family, many of the recipes I found when researching Moldova were very familiar to me.  I was intrigued by the Moldovan version of Cabbage Rolls called Sarmale.  These are different from the Polish Golabki that I make in several ways.  

First you add vinegar to the water in which you are boiling the cabbage leaves.  Next you line the bottom and top of the cabbage rolls with saurkraut and you add a ham hock to the mix.  I didn't have a ham hock so I put in a ham steak.  The filling contains all pork including bacon. At the end you add a bay leaf and dill sprig then cook it on the stove top instead of in the oven. 

Dinner plate with wine

Like my recipe, this one contained rice in the filling.  I assembled my rolls and put them onto the stove to cook. I started cleaning the kitchen when I noticed my rice steamer with the rice all nice and cooked inside!  We had our rice on the side LOL.

bottles of wine

I opened two bottles to serve with this dinner, a white and a red.  The Castel MIMI Feteasca Alba poured a light golden color.  I found it refreshing with a hint of stone fruit.  I thought it paired amazingly well with the Sarmale.

The Radacini Saperavi Feteasca Neagra Merlot also had a hint of stone fruit but was spicier and heavier with hints of black pepper.  It paired okay with the Sarmale but I actually enjoyed this wine more on it's own after dinner while relaxing with a book.  It is my kind of wine, deep, dark, bold and dry.

I'm anxious to try my other two wines and share my findings with you so stay tuned.  Hope to see you at chat tomorrow, until then if you have time this weekend, this recipe is a great way to celebrate the Fall season.

Entrees, International Foods, Pork, Cabbage,
Entees, Pork
Yield: 12 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Sarmale (Moldovan Cabbage Rolls)

Sarmale (Moldovan Cabbage Rolls)

These cabbage rolls are filled with a ground pork and bacon mixture and then smothered in sauerkraut flavored with ham. They are amazingly delicious.
Prep time: 1 HourCook time: 3 H & 30 MTotal time: 4 H & 30 M


  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 2 T. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 2 large onions, small dice
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • 1/2 lb bacon, diced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 T.  finely chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 qt. sauerkraut
  • 1 smoked ham steak or small ham hock
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 c. tomato vegetable juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig dill weed


  1. Remove core from cabbage.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the kosher salt and vinegar to the water.  Immerse the cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes.  Use tongs to remove the leaves from the cabbage as they soften, placing them onto a baking pan to cool.  
  2. Place the bacon into a large skillet over medium heat along with the onions, celery and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir until bacon is browned and vegetables are tender.  Stir in the parsley, set aside.
  3. Use a paring knife to remove the main vein from the cooled cabbage leaves so they lay flat.  Set aside.
  4. Combine the ground pork with the cooled bacon and vegetables and a 1/2 cup of water.  
  5. Place about 2 Tablespoons of filling onto the cabbage leaves and fold them like an envelope.  
  6. Drain the sauerkraut and place half into the bottom of a Dutch Oven or other heavy pot.  Place the ham on top of the sauerkraut and then layer the cabbage rolls on top.  Cover the rolls with the remaining sauerkraut.  Mix together the tomato sauce and juice and pour over all.  Add the bay leaf and dill sprig to the top.  
  7. Place the lid onto the Dutch Oven and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 2-3 hours, until very tender.  
  8. Serve over rice, if desired,  garnished with sour cream.  


Adapted from a recipe found at The California Wine Club website.



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Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. The cabbage sounds delicious. I will have to try it. The vinegar sounds interesting.

  2. What a great recipe Wendy! Those little details of the vinegar, dill, bay leaf, and sauerkraut make the Moldovan version stand out. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I love the connection to your Polish in-laws. My grandmother was Eastern Europe and made cabbage rolls. Unfortunately, I don't have her recipe and not sure I could duplicate them anyway!

    1. There are so many variations. They are very doable. I think you would surprise yourself Linda.

  4. I like the way you think, enjoying a nice wine with a book. Moldova was a perfect kick off the group!

  5. Your sarmale look delish. I am of Polish background and I remember having "pigs in a blanket" regularly as a kid.

    1. We still enjoy them at least a few times a year. It was nice to have a little different experience.

  6. I grew up with cabbage rolls. My mother was Hungarian, so the idea of sarmale was familiar. I find it so interesting how these recipes differ from country to country. My mothers always had ground pork and ground beef, of course this was the early 70s so much of that may be due to what was available. Rice or no rice, your sarmale look delicious!

    1. My Golabki is my mil's recipe from Poland. It also is half beef, half pork.

  7. My grandma was Polish, so love the connection you've drawn here between the cuisines.

    1. I'm happy I could bring back some food memories for you Nicole.

  8. I like cabbage roll idea with these wines. I've never made them, but looks fun to try.

    1. It takes a little time but you get enough for several dinners and they freeze fantastically.


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