A most unorthodox event

Travellers Tale When in Romania
27 August, 2008
I went to Romania once on the weirdest trip . Halewood International had invested millions in some wineries and was eager to show off the results in a country with potential for making wine - particularly Pinot Noir - but huge issues to surmount over ownership of land .

We were whisked around at speed over potholed roads and the poverty was evident. After one visit we were ushered to a house for a tasting, followed by a formal blessing of the house by Greek orthodox priests , then a buffet lunch with local music .

The bouncers, dressed all in black , would not have looked out of place in a James Bond film. Then the tasting room started to fill and we noticed the newcomers were not sniffing, slurping or making notes -just knocking back the vino.

We assembled in the main room for the blessing and as the priests started chanting and flicking water at the walls, we watched the interlopers who, we guessed, were villagers gatecrashing the event, set about the buffet.

Twitching with hunger and anger, we finally managed to grab something. I stepped outside only to see a man with a plastic bag fishing some mouldy grapes out of an ancient wine press. The bouncers just looked on.

In Bucharest, we were taken to a top restaurant. It had one of the biggest menus I have ever seen - not a good sign. l moseyed over to a wine display and, not believing my eyes, took back to my hosts a couple of the bottles which were proudly being displayed in this swish eaterie. The wines were labelled as Sainsbury's and Tesco own-label Romanian wine. If looks could kill...

Christian Davis

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