Wine drinking is an essential part of Croatian cuisine and heritage. A lot of is written about the national parks, sun-kissed beaches, and the beaches islands that surround Croatia but the wines produced across the region are a hidden gem and should be on your list to try when visiting Croatia.
The best wines to try in Croatia are Malvazija, Teran, Dingač, Babić, Graševina, and Pošip. A large variety of these wines are easily available in supermarkets or wine stores across Croatia. If you are a wine enthusiast, then visiting some of the famous local wineries is a great idea to understand winemaking culture and heritage.
Throughout our trip to Croatia, we savored local wines of every region we visited and got to know a great deal about the unique wine varieties that you must try which we have listed here.
Wine Regions of Croatia
Right from the Slavonian planes to Dalmatia, there are about 130 native wine grapes varieties that are grown in Croatia and produce some great high-quality wines. The diverse climate conditions and terrain of Croatia also lend to the production of unique tasting wines.
Croatia essentially has two primary wine-growing regions – Coastal Croatia ( Primorska Hrvatska) and Continental Croatia (Kontinentalna Hrvatska), which are further divided into 12 subregions. The wines grown in these regions vary in their taste and character due to different climatic conditions.
Let’s talk about some of the best wine varieties of these regions that you must try during your visit to Croatia.
Malvazija is one of the best white wines in Croatia and undoubtedly the finest in Istria. It is mostly grown in the northern part of Croatia using Malvasia grape, one of the oldest indigenous grape varieties in Croatia.
Malvazija is a white wine with a green hue and can be described as dry, full-bodied, and aromatic wine. It tends to have a fruity or citrus flavor and pairs really well with sea food. Malvazija is mostly preferred during the day due to its fresh, aromatic feel.
If you are looking to pick this wine from a supermarket or wine store, try the Malvazija Istarska Matošević Alba.
Teran is one of the most popular red wines consumed in Istria. It is mostly produced in the western side of Istria. Derived from Terrano in Italian, Teran is a full-bodied wine with red ruby color and a fruity aroma. It is preferred at night time wine with meats.
Blended varieties of Teran are available in most stores across Istria. However, the best single grape varieties are available in the leading wineries of this region.
Some of the best wineries in Istria where you can try organic Malvazija and Teran wines are – Vina Matošević, Kabola, Kozlovič and Fakin Wines.
If you want to experience Istria’s winemaking culture, then it is a great idea to visit one of these wineries. We have an entire post on Top Wineries and Wine Tasting Tours in Istria and their wine tasting experience that can help plan your visit.
Graševina is one of the popular white wines in Croatia and mainly produced in the eastern part of the country around Slavonia. The grape with the same name is not a native variety of Croatia but the wines produced have such unique properties and flavor that Croatia is often called the ‘country of Graševina’.
Graševina is a dry white wine of yellowish-green with a fresh and slight, pleasing bitterness and pairs very well with pasta dishes, white meat, and fish. It has medium alcohol content and is one of the favorite everyday white wine varietals in Croatia.
If you are looking to buy Graševina, then stick with top producers like Galić, Enjingi, and Krauthaker.
Dingač is undoubtedly the best Croatian wine and often considered the ‘king of all Croatian wines. It is produced from the Plavac Mali grape variety which is mainly cultivated on the slopes of the Pelješac peninsula. The typical climatic and soil conditions of this area render a unique taste to this robust red wine.
Dingač was the first-ever Croatian wine to be awarded a denomination of origin back in 1961. It is a nice dark red to purple color wine with a slightly bitter but lush taste of dark fruit.
Plavac Mali is one of the most common red wine varieties grown throughout Dalmatia. So aside from Dingač, there is a large variety of Plavac wines produced from vineyards all around the Pelješac peninsula, islands of Hvar, Brac, and the Konavle region.
If you are in the Pelješac region, we highly recommend visiting some of the Plavac Mali vineyards to try authentic wines of this region with some gorgeous views of the Adritatic.
Babić is made of the native grape sort Babić, which is mainly grown in the Dalmatia region around Šibenik. Babić is a red wine, made from blue wine grapes and is characterized by strong density and full-bodied taste.
Babić has a full earthy flavor and has traces of dark berries, plums and figs, and distinct spices. The best varieties of Babić wines are produced by aging the young wine in oak barrels. It pairs very well with hard cheese, pasticada, and meats.
Pošip is a golden-colored white wine named after the grape that it is made from. The best quality Posip are grown in Korčula but you can find this wine variety across central and southern Croatia.
Pošip is the first Croatian white wine to receive a protected geographic origin. The wine itself has a strong aroma and refreshing notes. It pairs well with seafood, grilled fish, and salads.
You will commonly find family-run taverns (konoba) all over Croatia. These families prepare house wines for special occasions and often offer these to the guests. The homemade wines may or may not be listed on the menu so check with the restaurant for availability. These are not close to any professional wine but have great flavor and compliments the food very well.
Which is the best white wine in Croatia?
Malvazija wine is the best white wine in Croatia and a must-try. Explore the organic varieties of Malvazija wines which are mostly available in Istria.
Which is the best red wine in Croatia?
Dingač is undoubtedly the best red wine you can try in Croatia. In fact, we highly recommend visiting any of the wineries producing Dingač wine in the Pelješac region.
Are Croatian wines expensive?
Croatian wines are very reasonably priced for their quality of production, as compared to what you will find in the rest of Europe. Even at restaurants, we found purchasing the whole bottle quite economical as compared to ordering wine by the glass.
Is a winery visit or wine tasting tour in Croatia worth it?
We highly recommend taking up a wine tasting tour either on your own or with an organized tour. Visiting a winery is an immersive experience where you will get to know a lot about the winemaking traditions of a particular region, different techniques used for winemaking, and even get a chance to visit the production facility.
With a wine tasting tour you will get to try the wine varieties produced at the winery or upcoming wines which are not available in usual wine stores.
Istria is considered the best wine-producing region in Croatia and has some striking wineries all across. If you are visiting Istria, read more about the best wineries and wine tours in Istria in our next post!
Can I buy these recommended wines at supermarkets or wine stores across Croatia?
You can easily buy wine varieties of these top Croatia wines at wine stores across Croatia but only the popular wines might be available at supermarkets. Look for grape varieties, the region of production, and the age of wine while making your wine purchase.