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Starting With Croatian Wine - Tips for Newbies!

We’ve all been there...wanting to taste some new wines from a previously unknown region or country and not knowing where to start and what to look for. Croatia might be a small country, but it has a long history of winemaking that goes back to the ancient Romans or even Greeks several centuries BC.

Fast forward to the 21st century: there are up to several hundreds of different wines produced in Croatia every year.  Here are some useful tips we would like to share with a newbie interested in tasting Croatian wine, in order to keep away the paralysis of choice and ensure that your Croatian wine experience is love at first sip. 

You know what they say; there is only one chance to make a good first impression. So here is our guide to help you have the best first impression with Croatian wines.

1. Know your label
Every wine label in Croatia has to state the wine quality level, and there are three levels: Table Wine (stolno vino), Quality Wine (kvalitetno vino) and Premium Quality Wine (vrhunsko vino). 

Table wine is of the lowest quality and it usually stands for wine that is supposed to be diluted with mineral or still water and be served as an everyday refreshment with a meal. Some table wines, usually from small family owned wineries, can be of a superior quality and from a specific winemaking area.

Quality wine is a wine made from one or more grape makes and from a certain wine region. The label will state if it is from a specific, controlled sub region. 

Premuim Quality Wine is a wine made from one or more grape makes of a controlled geographical origin, usually an appellation or a specific part of a subregion.

2. Know the two main regions
Croatia could roughly be divided into two main geographical and thus wine subregions: continental Croatia (kontinentalna Hrvatska) and coastal Croatia (primorska Hrvatska). As a rule of thumb, the former is known for its white wines and the latter is known for its reds.

3. Start with the best of the best
Seeing as  Croatia is the homeland of Zinfandel, and that the best known Croatian red wine - Plavac Mali - has Zinfandel as an ancestor, you should look no further if you are interested in tasting the best red wine Croatia has to offer. Look for Plavac Mali from the Peljesac peninsula, particularly from the Dingac and Postup appellations.

As for white wines, Istria is the home of some great Malvasia wines and continental Croatia is known for great Welschriesling (Grasevina).

So, in conclusion, a good Plavac Mali, a good Malvasia, and a good Grasevina will result in the best possible introduction to Croatian wine. And if you’re up for something special and authentic, go for a glass of prosek, a traditional Croatian sweet wine that is similar to Italian prosecco in name only.

This is for starters, after this there is wide variety of indigenous sorts to start tasteing.

Cheers -- or as they say in Croatia - živjeli!

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