Best Romanian Traditional Drinks
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages - Part 2
We continue our article about the Romanian Traditional Drinks with a second and last part.
So far, we have explored the “benefits” of the Romanian homemade brandy and the refreshing elderflower juice. We shall now discover some curiosities about the Romanian wines and beers and where to drink a great coffee or an aromatic tea.
1. Romanian wines
Let’s start with the Romanian wines that come from many vineyards all over the country and always flow in waves.
Tourists visiting Romania are often pleasantly surprised by the variety, complexity, and quality of the wine. They are surprised because it seems that Romania has a problem with the image of its wine abroad. Under the communist regime, the quantity was more important than quality, and wine was produced almost entirely for Soviet consumers. Later on, the outdated technology, the fierce competition, and the lack of investment placed Romania at the bottom of the ranking of wine producers.
However, the situation began to improve in the 1990s, when the land was handed back to the farmers. Today, more than half of vineyards are privately owned. These are generally small plots where wine is produced primarily for domestic consumption. The old state-run farms were privatized and focused on improving their wines and mass production.
Entry into the EU seems to have led to increased investment and an expansion of the export market. More and more small, family-run wine cellars appeared on the map, hoping to develop good quality wines and also to offer some additional services for their visitors: short guided walks in the vineyards, witness the winemaking procedure, taste different varieties of wines, enjoy local dishes or even stay overnight. These are small businesses that are so appreciated by travelers. They are developing fast, showing superb potential. Similar places can be owned by foreign companies that invested in local vineyards.
Today, Romania is one of the world's largest wine producers and fifth-largest among European wine-producing countries, after Italy, France, Spain, and Germany.
Some home-grown grape varieties, including Grasa de Cotnari, Feteasca Alba, Zghihara from Husi, Feteasca Neagra, and cramposia from Dragasani. After the 19th-century, the phylloxera epidemic devastated the vines, so fresh ones were imported from France, Germany, and Italy, bringing in grape varieties including Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscat-Ottonel.
Important vineyards are found in most of the regions of the country: Wallachia (Southern Romania), Transylvania (Center Romania), Moldova (Eastern Romania), Dobrogea (at the Black Seaside), Banat (South-Western Romania).
The most famous Romanian wines abroad are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In addition, Pinot Noir wine, which is produced with great difficulty, is flourishing in Romania. We also mention Feteasca Neagra, Busuioaca de Bohotin, Tamaioasa Romanesca, and Grasa de Cotnari.
Wine can be found in all grocery stores and many supermarkets. You will also find a great selection in the dedicated wine shops/bars and restaurants.
As for visiting wine cellars, we mention some with their Romanian wines worth seeking out (there are many, many more):
- Macin wine cellar
- Conacul Vinalia
- Crama Lacerta
- Vitis Metamorfis
- Domeniul Dragasani
- Villa Vinea
- Crama Oprisor
- Cramele Recas
- Cotnari wine cellar
Another interesting note about drinking wine in Romania is that quite some people prefer to drink it mixed with soda or mineral water either to prolong Bachus' liqueur, or to be able to drink more and get drunk harder, or because they think that the wine is "too strong." We call this mixture spritz. Cola can also be a substitute for mineral water.
However, wine connoisseurs do not agree with this habit at all. On the contrary, they believe that "Putting water or Cola in real wine is like whistling in the church,” or if I may add, it is like adding ketchup on pizza.
2. Cheers! Best Romanian beer
Romania produces and consumes beer that is generally of good quality. Therefore, beer is actually quite popular in the country.
The Saxons from Transylvania passed their passion for this drink to Romanians. Thus, the oldest functional brewery is located in Timisoara, opened in 1718, two years after the withdrawal of the Ottomans. Timisoreana beer is still produced today.
Until the end of the 1990s, beer lovers in Romania were limited to local brands, but the offer has diversified significantly in recent years, including renowned international brands. Probably the best-known national brand is Ursus, founded in Cluj Napoca in 1878. Other quality brands are Silva, Ciuc, Bergenbier.
Romanians are amongst the heaviest beer drinkers in the world and also important beer producers. Major international brewers such as Brau Union (Austria), Carlsberg (Denmark), Heineken (Netherland), Efes (Turkey) have already bought up a large number of Romanian breweries.
Draught beer is more common. Pale, sweet, and light, it is served in half a liter of stein or regular glass. Some bottled brands as Ciuc, Ursus, Silva, Bergenbier are deservedly popular. Beer lovers will appreciate beer festivals such as the ones held in Timisoara and Brasov.
In recent years, craft beers became more appreciated, and small producers entered the market with high hopes. And they were not wrong. Beer produced in the microbreweries has become increasingly sought after by connoisseurs in dedicated bars, restaurants, and supermarkets.
Today, there are over 50 independent microbreweries in Romania with a production of under 5000 hectoliters.
Here are some examples of Best Romanian Craft Beers:
- Clinica de Bere microbrewery from Timisoara with the brand “Terapia.”
- Fabrica de Bere Buna microbrewery from Maneciu-Ungureni with their brand “Zaganu.” They own a dedicated bar in Bucharest here, where you will find Romanian craft beer produced in microbreweries.
- Csíki Sör Manufaktúrát microbrewery from Sânsimion town in Szekerland region of Transylvania. This beer is produced by the Hungarian minority in Romania. Tourists can visit the brewery and enjoy traditional specialties on the spot. Their beer can be found in supermarkets and some local restaurants or bars from Transylvania.
- Nemteana microbrewery to be found in most of the supermarkets and craft beer bars.
- Hop Hooligans microbrewery is located in Jilava town, near Bucharest. In addition, they own a craft beer TapRoom Bar in Bucharest city center here.
- Wicked Barrel microbrewery - Gypsy brewing with their popular The Black Pot brand. Here you will find the map with the places where you will find this beer.
3. Not Made in Romania but for sure Popular in Romania (coffee, tea)
Romanians satisfy regular coffee cravings. Although they are just as enamored with tea, which is sipped straight or with lemon, teahouses pop up with growing frequency in Bucharest.
Black Tea is not commonly drunk, so those who love English tea should bring their own supplies.
Some appreciated tea-houses and coffee shops in Bucharest are Infintea, Bohemian Tea House, Camera din Fata, Ceai la Metoc, Rendez-Vous, Santhe - Fitoceainarie, Seneca Anticafe, Origo, M60, Van Fruct Coffee Shop, Meron Coffee.
And with this final note, we have reached the end of our 2-article series of “Romanian Traditional Drinks.” I hope you liked it and you got inspired for your trip to our country. Remember to read about Romanian Traditional Dishes so that you can enjoy a complete culinary experience.