UKRAINE: Wine and kvass

I have a LOT of questions about the only brand of Ukrainian wine available at the LCBO. First of all, sparkling white is a natural, but sparkling red? Second, KrimSekt’s website says it’s really popular in Germany, but the website is hosted in Canada, out of date, talks about how the wine is grown in Crimea – which Ukraine lost control over most of its historic vineyards in 2014. The two wines are dated after that, but are labelled “Product of Ukraine” – so likely the grapes were grown in a different part of Ukraine. The back of the label says the company is based in Bakhmut, which is just on the Ukrainian border of occupied Donbas and has been near the frontlines since then.

These wines may not even be sold under this brand anymore – owner Artwinery now lists on its own website just “Krim” under a different labelling. When I grabbed these two bottles, they were some of the last ones in the store. The LCBO is now totally out of them, so I may have the last few bottles that are going to make it to Canada anytime soon, especially since the region is facing terrible shelling and fighting – but they’re still active and working to re-open their stores in other parts of Ukraine.

As for the wine itself?

KrimSekt Red 2019 – Smell and first sip is kind of like kosher grape juice, but then there’s a nice bubble, some good acidity, and the vaguest hint of tannin in the end. I’d say this is more of a sweet wine than a semi-sweet, but I really vibe with the idea of a sparkling red.

KrimSekt White 2015 – Aged white wine is an odd though to me, but it seems 7 years isn’t unthinkable. Again, this really should be a sweet wine rather than semi-sweet. It’s very sweet, but again a bit of acidity at the end.

And while I’ve tried both Ukrainian wine and vodka, here’s a non-alc option: kvass!

Poltavskiy kvassKvass is a fermented malt drink that’s popular in Slavic and Baltic countries. It can be anything from pretty light to quite dark – this one from the Poltava brewery in Ukraine is on the dark end. It’s got a roasted, slightly smokey dark flavour with nice carbonation and a bit of sweetness, kind of like a non-alc porter, but with the really clear malt drink flavour. I really like this.

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