Ukrainian wines have a long and rich history dating back to ancient times. The country is home to a variety of native grape varietals that are used to produce a range of red, white, and sparkling wines.
General Terroir & History
Ukrainian wines have a strong connection to Austrian wines, as the two countries share a long history and similar wine-making traditions. Both countries have a long tradition of wine production, with roots dating back to ancient times. Ukraine was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for many years, and during this time, Austrian winemaking traditions were introduced to the region. This influence can still be seen in the wine-making practices of modern-day Ukraine.
One of the main similarities between Ukrainian and Austrian wines is the use of native grape varietals. Both countries are home to a number of unique and lesser-known grape varietals that are used to produce a range of red, white, and sparkling wines. In Ukraine, popular native grape varietals include Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon, while in Austria, popular native grape varietals include Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Zweigelt.
In addition to their shared use of native grape varietals, Ukrainian and Austrian wines also have similar wine-making traditions and techniques. Both countries are known for producing high-quality, terroir-driven wines that reflect the unique characteristics of their respective regions.
Much of the wine regions are found in relative close vicinity to the Black Sea, across Southern Ukraine & the Tisza valley
Major Wine Varietals & Styles
The country's diverse terroir and long tradition of wine production have contributed to the development of a range of wine styles that reflect the character and diversity of the region. It shares much viticultural history with Austria & Hungary, and hence carry a lot of similar wines, such as regional grapes of Furmint & Blaufrankisch (Kekfrankos in Hungary). They also carry international grapes popular in the region, such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.
In Additional, they have some local varietals unique to small areas within Ukraine, such as Chergesi & Odesa Black
Sovetskoye Shampanskoye (Sekt)
Based primarily on Pinot Blanc, Aligoté, Riesling and Chardonnay, sparkling Sekt or Shampanskoye was introduced after the Crimean War, and is primarily produced in the Odessa region. It remains popular today, making up almost one-third of Ukraine's production
Light Bodied White Wine
Chersegi is a unique aromatic white wine that arose in the 1950s as a cross of Traminer Pink & Irshai Oliver. it's a bright light white with beautiful stonefruit & floral aromatics, used to make Sekt or dry whites.
Riesling is usually produced as a dry white wine, and are known for their high acidity and minerality, with flavors and aromas that can include green apple, citrus, honey, and floral notes.
Full Bodied White Wine
Aligote, Traminer, Chardonnay, Rkatsiteli, Furmint
Aligote is a wine of Burgundy origin, but due to it's tolerance to cold, is also cultivated in Eastern European countries. They are unique red fleshed berries, and has slight herbal tones & greater acidity. Usually done as a rose wine, it's often a blending grape to create structure in a wine, and are often used to make sparkling wines.
Traminer, or Savagin in France, from Ukraine are known for their strong aroma, with a characteristic spicy, floral and fruity notes. The aroma of Traminer wines is due to the presence of the compound called "Muscat oil" which gives it a unique floral and spicy aroma. Some Traminer wines from Ukraine are also fermented and aged in oak barrels, which imparts a distinct vanilla and caramel flavor to the final product.
Rkatsiteli wines from Ukraine are known for their high acidity, minerality, and complex flavor profile. The flavors and aromas can include green apple, pear, honey, and floral notes, with a characteristic spicy note.
Furmint wines are mainly produced in the western region of Transcarpathia, around the city of Mukachevo. The wines are considered as unique and rare, and are known for their rich and complex taste profile. The wines are often aged in oak, or are produced in late harvest styles
Light Bodied Red Wine
Pinot Noir grapes grown in Ukraine are usually harvested at peak ripeness, which results in a high sugar content and a balanced acidity. Some wineries in Ukraine also practice the technique of cold maceration, which helps to extract more color and flavor from the grapes.
Medium Bodied Red Wine
Feteasca Neagra, Blaufrankisch
Feteasca Neagra is a red grape variety known for its rich and complex flavor profile and medium to full-bodied style. The wine-making process for Feteasca Neagra wines from Ukraine typically involves fermentation in oak barrels, and is often blended
Blaufrankisch wines from Ukraine are known for their high acidity and minerality, with flavors and aromas that can include red fruit, such as cherry and raspberry, along with spices, black pepper, and a hint of smokiness.
Full Bodied Red Wine
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bastardo
Merlot wines from Ukraine are known for their rich and fruity flavor, with notes of blackcurrant, plum and chocolate. Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Ukraine are known for their rich and complex flavor profile, with notes of blackcurrant, cassis, and a hint of green bell pepper. They are often used in blends to produced full bodied red wines.
Bastardo, also known as Sousliks or "Kishmish" in Ukraine, is a red grape variety that is known for its unique and complex flavor profile. It is considered a lesser-known grape variety in Ukraine and is grown mainly in the western regions of Transcarpathia, where it is considered a traditional grape variety.
One of the unique characteristics of Bastardo wines from Ukraine is their high acidity and minerality, with flavors and aromas that can include dark fruit, with some wines developing a more complex flavor profile with notes of leather, tobacco, and game.
Dessert / Fortified Wine
Some of the famous examples of Muscat-based sweet wines from Ukraine are "Muscat of Alexandria" and "Muscat Ottonel" . These wines are considered as some of the best sweet wines from Ukraine and are known for their rich and complex taste profile, coming in white, pink & black forms.
Kagor is a sweet wine from Ukraine, known for its rich and fruity flavor. It is made from the Saperavi grape variety, which is native to the country. The wine is traditionally fermented and aged in oak barrels, which imparts a distinct vanilla and caramel flavor to the final product. Kagor is often enjoyed as a dessert wine, and pairs well with fruit-based desserts and dark chocolate. It is also commonly used in traditional Ukrainian cuisine, particularly during religious and cultural celebrations. Kagor is considered one of Ukraine's most famous and prestigious wines, and has a long history dating back to ancient times, where it was originally used as a scramental wine in the Russian Orthodox liturgy.
The country's diverse terroir and long tradition of wine production have contributed to the development of a range of wine styles that reflect the character and diversity of the region.
Crimea, Black Sea Coast
One of the most well-known wine regions in Ukraine is the Crimea, located on the Black Sea coast. The region is known for its sunny, Mediterranean-like climate, which is well-suited to the production of red and white wines. The Crimea is home to a number of native grape varietals, including Rkatsiteli, Aligote, and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are used to produce a range of white, red, and sparkling wines.
Another important wine region in Ukraine is the Transcarpathian region, located in the western part of the country. The region is known for its cool, continental climate and diverse terroir, which is well-suited to the production of a range of white and red wines. The Transcarpathian region is home to a number of native grape varietals, including Furmint, Hárslevelű, and Kékfrankos, which are used to produce a range of white and red wines.
In addition to the Crimea and Transcarpathian regions, Ukraine is also home to a number of other wine regions, including the Odessa region on the Black Sea coast, the Podillya region in the west, and the Dnipro region in the east. Each of these regions has its own unique climate and grape varietals, and produces a range of wine styles that reflect the character and diversity of the region.