Today I will use my four words of Russian. Nostrovia! Cheers! Many cities in the U.S. now have shops where you can buy Russian food and wine. Seattle and San Francisco have several, even Tucson has a "European" market where you can get Russian goods. My favorite is the shop on Irving and, is it 15th, in the Sunset in San Francisco. This shop has an entire wall of Russian charcuterie, a freezer full of Pelmeny and Pirogi, a freezer tray full of smoked fish, shelves of canned goods from Latvia, Bulgaria and other places. The fourth wall is a deli counter with pickles, stuffed cabbage, pickled tongue, anything your heart desires. Behind the register is a wall of wine and liquor mostly Vodka. In my naive American way, I asked the owner for potato Vodka. Immediately everyone in line was telling me in a friendly way that I was crazy and that I should get "Standard" Vodka - very good, very smooth, the best, but made from wheat. This vodka has 60% market share in Russia and is sold in many countries around the world. BTW, the company that sells Standard also sells life insurance, so if you drink yourself to death you are covered. Standard is the best Vodka I've had. With Stoli, Grey Goose, Absolute, or Ketal One, you are paying for a massive marketing campaign. Standard is way better and Bevmo even had a two for one sale, thus, $10 a bottle ( regular price - $20). Standard, dah, Stoli, nyet! This goes great with smoked fish and salmon roe caviar.
I brought some smoked sausage with me from San Francisco and bought some Kishka at the "European" store at 4500 Speedway in Tucson. I, also, bought my first bottle of Russian wine from Georgia - 2001 Mukuzani made from the Saperavi grape. Georgia has been producing wine for thousands of years ,although recently there have been some questionable practices. Some Georgian have reached record old age, maybe there is something special in the wine. It has been said that it was Stalin's favorite wine, though I doubt he could possibly have killed as many bottles of it as he killed people. The wine is a kind of purplish claret color with spicy fruit, mushrooms and a hint of cedar in the nose. It is soft, round, light to medium bodied, with big soft fruit, a hint of mocha and a slightly tangy finish. It went great with the Kishka and salami. Very good wine. Dasvedania!