John Wine Snob says:
Happy New Year (C Новым Годом)! Mrs. Wine Snob and I spent a wonderful New Year’s Eve with her parents and some bottles of Советское Шампанское (Soviet Champagne). They still call it Soviet and they still call it Champagne. Old habits die hard in Russia. When I lived there Sovietskoye was the only sparkling wine available. Except for vodka nothing goes down with Russian caviar better that champagne, and all of those things flowed live rivers in the 1980s. When we found Sovietskoye being sold in a Romanian grocery store in Phoenix for $10 a bottle we jumped on the chance to serve it on New Year’s Eve, so we bought a variety of five sorts. A couple were semi-dry, and a couple were semi-sweet, and another was a deep red-semi sweet. Not having had it in many years, I was afraid that my nostalgic memory was not accurate. I rather liked it way back then. Here is one great contradiction: Russia makes lots of wine, and almost all of them are terrible. My first evening in Russia in 1981 I was served a popular white wine from the then Soviet Republic of Georgia, called Tsinindali. It was like battery acid, but after a couple of years the plastic cork that had to be cut with a knife and the rot-gut taste became sort of charming. That is why I was apprehensive about these sparklers, but they were as good as I remembered. I have no idea why they can make good sparkling wine in an otherwise wine abyss. They are all crisp and clean. My favorite is the Semi-Dry Gold. It is very refreshing and, as I said previously, it is perfect with either black or red caviar. Even after competition with a few prior shots of vodka it held its strength. The Semi-Sweet Red was also delightful. It went well especially with the red caviar and crab stuffed mushrooms. The Semi-Sweet Gold was perfect to end the evening accompanying an ambrosia salad. These wines can be found at Anna’s Romanian Grocery or Yasha’s Russian grocery in Phoenix. They are hard to find, but you can check out any Slavic or Balkan stores in your area. I am partial to the Semi-Dry Gold, but the quality is consistent in all of these Russkies so I am rating them all together with 3 stars each.