Tamaioasa romaneasca- A story how Muscat Blanc gets a different name in every country
Would you drink “incense-like” wine? Maybe not the best marketing, but “tamaioasa” means “incense flavored” in Romanian. Given the deeply orthodox influence in this country, it comes as no surprise to name a grape variety like that. We also have “busuioaca”, which translates to “basil flavored”, another plant used in religious rituals here.
Tamaioasa Romaneasca is considered to be a native grape variety in Romania producing white, aromatic wine. However, a bit of research unveils that this is only half true.
There is a grape named Tamaioasa romaneasca which is classified as a subspecies of Vitis vinifera and traceable to this country with a good spread in the entire Balkan area.
Under the same name, you can also find an ancient grape originating in Greece. The latter has spread to almost every wine producing country in Europe. It is the Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains or Muscato Bianco or Gelber Muskateller and a few dozen other regional names. This happens because it has been around since the Romans bought it from the Greeks and spread it through the entire empire where people embraced it and named it accordingly.
Jancis Robinson tells the whole story about the rising popularity of this grape in Europe and even the New World.
How is the Tamaioasa Romaneasca?
As a member of the Muscat family, the Tamaioasa creates a wide variety of aromatic wines. These range from dry to dessert wines with a low or medium alcoholic content (10.5-12.5 ABV) and even sparkling wines.
The dry style, when young, is usually very citric, with notes of elderflowers, fresh grapes, acacia flowers, linden tree flowers, and hints of green apples, which we also see in Feteasca Alba. If it ages gracefully, it develops aromas of honey, cantaloupe, pineapple or peaches. The older wines can have a bitter note in the aftertaste and come closer to the suggestion of incense.
The sweet style revolves around very ripe stonefruits like peaches as well as pears and can get really exotic, think pineapple. The honey aroma is much more pronounced, and a specific rose (or rose water) flavor is also present most of the times. This is only pleasant if the acidity can support the sweetness and the alcohol is low enough to make it easily drinkable.
The Tamaioasa can also be transformed into a crisp and citric sparkling wine which retains the fresh character and gets additional toast and yeast notes if created through the traditional method.
You will love Tamaioasa Romaneasca if you already drink
Muscat Blanc (Moscato Bianco)
As stated above this is, in fact, a clone of the Muscat Blanc or Muscato Bianco. If you already love one of the expressions of this style, why not get a bottle of Tamaioasa?
The similarity with this grape consists of a highly aromatic profile. If you generally go for the spiciness of the Gewürztraminer, you will love a slightly aged, sweet Tamaioasa. Botrytis-affected Tamaioasa Romaneasca is a real treat.
Let’s not focus just on aromatic grapes. Tamaioasa is a good choice if you already love the kind of Sauvignon Blanc dominated by acacia and linden flowers. In this case, select a dry style with higher alcohol.
What to eat with Tamaioasa Romaneasca
This versatile white wine is an excellent companion for different gastronomies. The dry crisp and especially the sparkling versions are great for a fatty fish, like a butterfish cooked in white sauce or sashimi.
If you are a fan of the Asian cuisine, try an off-dry Tamaioasa with some shrimp rolls and a sweet-sour sauce or this fool-proof shrimp dish. Finally, this is a great choice for a dessert wine, complementing tarts, fruit-based cheesecakes or lemon cakes.
For the full Romanian experience, drink a glass of dry Tamaioasa with pike brine served with polenta or try a hard, matured sheep cheese.
Picture source: www.winefolly.com, www.bucataras.ro, www.seriouseats.com, www.taste.com.au, www.tripadvisor.com