• Jessica Cerovic

Wine in Croatia

Wine or "Vino" in Croatian, like Italian, is some of the best in Europe partly due to the country's Mediterranean climate and beautiful blend of mountains and sea that flavors the soil. Most Americans have no idea that Croatia has such fine wine. This is because it is very hard to find Croatian wine in the U.S. since most Croatian wine does not contain preservatives, or as Igor's father likes to say, "chemicals," because they believe it "ruins" the wine.

Wine is a large part of Croatian culture. When they are not drinking coffee, most likely they are drinking wine. Many Croatians make their own wine at home, like Igor's father, Emilio. He has grapes growing on his pergola outside their house. Like all wine, no two batches are exactly the same. Sometimes Emilio has a really good year and sometimes it's better if Igor's mother, Ela, just makes it into red or white wine vinegar for salads. That's as organic and homemade as it gets folks!

On a hot summer day it is not uncommon to see someone order a "gemišt" at a cafe bar, a mix of white wine and sparkling water. Adding Coke to red wine is called "bambus" and is popular with the younger party crowd.

Croatia even has a holiday dedicated entirely to wine. St. Martin’s Day takes place on November 11th of this year. This is when grapes go from what Croatians call mošt to officially becoming wine. St. Martin's feast is a ritual of new wine baptism that has been celebrated since the 17th century. Wine lovers gather in vineyards of their hosts in the middle of November. European traditions consider this Catholic saint to be the patron saint of vintners and wine growers. In the ritual of baptizing, actors dress up and take roles of judge, bishop, godmother and godfather of the wine. These celebrations mark the period when work outside of the home, in the fields, would come to an end and preparations for the winter would begin.

Croatia has a wide variety of vino. Grapes grown along the Adriatic coast have a very different taste than grapes grown in the mountains and valleys inland. Igor's parents live in Vinodol which literally translates to "Wine Valley." There are copious amounts of vineyards spread all over the countryside so it is trouble-free to find a wine tasting or wine tour wherever you choose to stay. What Americans call red wine, Croatians actually call black wine, "crno vino." White wine translates to the same, "bijelo vino." Some of the most famous brands of wine are Malvazija from Istria, Plavac and Babič from Dalmatia and Graševina from the Slavonia region. If you have already been to wine country in California or Tuscany and are looking for your next glass, I highly recommend you pop a cork in Croatia.

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