This morning, I woke up to see a very interesting Tweet come across my feed:
As you can see, it’s from someone in Japan, in this case, a man named Takatra Kobayashi who is a city councilor in a city named Tsu in Mie Prefecture. Somehow, he found a bottle of wine from Moldova and decided to Tweet about it.
A Long Time Ago
Way back in the hallowed year of 1998, in the city of Ames, Iowa, my friend Sam (female) had recently moved into a brand-new apartment in a building that had been converted from an old factory into lofts.
She then invited a few people over for a “housewarming” party. I distinctly remember that apartment because the interior walls were all a lovely brick, and the ceiling was really, really high. In fact, I remember there was a balloon stuck up against the ceiling because it was impossible to reach.
For this little party, my friend Sam had secured a bottle of wine from Moldova. I wasn’t much of a “wine guy” in those days, so regrettably, I have no idea what kind of wine we drank that day. But I do remember staring at the label, puzzling over how that bottle had managed to travel so far.
As a lifelong vexillologist, I was certainly aware of Moldova, but I knew nothing about the country except for a few sterile facts like the name of its capital. But, for the first time ever, there was something tangible from this faraway land that I could actually hold in my grubby little hands.
It was even more unusual because Sam and I and all of our friends were pretty poor, and buying strange wine from an exotic overseas country wasn’t something we would normally do. In fact, I don’t think I ever drank any wine again before moving to Europe.
I don’t really remember what that wine from Moldova tasted like, except that it was a bit too sweet for my liking. But I never forgot the sensation of holding that bottle, almost as if I had found it on a seashore with a note inside written by a sailor from some strange port on the other side of the globe.
And yet, here I am, 20 years later, living in the very same country where that wine was produced.
For the record, I don’t speak Japanese, but an online translation of the Tweet seems to be Mr. Kobayashi wondering why the label is in Cyrillic (actually, it’s Russian). I’ve seen a lot of wine bottles since 1998, and all I can tell him is that products bear different labels depending on where they’re being exported.
Moldovan wine being sold in Romania or the EU is usually in English only. Occasionally, it might be bilingual in Romanian. But Moldovan wine sold in the CIS (and farther abroad, apparently) is usually bilingual in Romanian and Russian, as is the case of the wine bottle pictured in Mr. Kobayashi’s Tweet.
What can I say? The threads of our lives sometimes only appear clear when seen from the perspective of many decades.
I certainly never expected to be living in Moldova and drinking its fantastic wines on a weekly basis, yet here I am :)