Wine is not just an economic activity in Istria, it is also a way of life, a reflection of tradition that is ingrained in the geography and culture of this most developed tourist region in Croatia.

If you are a wine lover, Istria will delight you with numerous wineries and wine routes in beautiful surroundings that reveal the perfect harmony of nature and culture. Croatia wine tasting has emerged as one of the most popular activities for all those who enjoy relaxed wine routes in the heartland of Istria. In Istrian wineries, except local wine tasting you will also find guided tours and tastings featuring the finest Istrian delicacies.

A typical Istrian wine variety that you must not miss in your Istria wine-tasting experience is Malvazija, a white, dry wine that has also become synonymous with Istrian wine, constituting almost two-thirds of the total wine production in these regions. Another well-known Istrian wine suitable for wine tasting in Istria is Teran, a red variety with an intensely red colour and purple hue, known for its intense aroma and pronounced acidity. Other types of wines that can be found in Istria include Muscat varieties and Burgundy.

Discover the best experience of wine tasting in Istria

Istria allows you to experience the best wine tasting in Croatia. Whether it’s red, white, or rosé wine, in one of the many Istrian wineries, everyone will find a variety that best suits their palate. In addition, on diverse wine routes, you will have the opportunity for guided tastings where you can sample the finest Istrian delicacies.

Among the wine-tasting experiences is also the art of pairing wine with selected gastronomic specialities. This is the task that requires a refined sense of the aroma, texture, and flavour of each wine. Although wine pairing is a subjective experience that can depend solely on individual preferences, certain techniques can be learned to master the art of wine pairing. An experienced sommelier will take into consideration the effervescence, sweetness, aromatic profile, juiciness, richness, acidity, or bitterness of a particular dish when pairing food with wine.

Food and wine pairing can be guided by different principles: contrasting, matching or contextual. The contrasting principle is where the wine's characteristics contrast with those of the food, such as pairing a rich, fatty dish with a light wine. Another principle is matching, where, for example, sweet wines are paired with sweet dishes. One of the examples would be chocolate and wine tasting while you are discovering the best match of sweet wines for this delicacy. The third principle of wine pairing is contextual, so for a romantic dinner, sparkling wine would be suitable, while local traditional dishes would be paired with local wines, allowing you to experience for example combinations such as local cheese and wine tasting.

Photo by Chelsea Pridham, Unsplash
Photo by Chelsea Pridham, Unsplash

Why do we taste wine?

Have you ever wondered why we taste wine? Tasting wine involves using our senses and allows us to explore its aroma and flavour. Aroma is the most important sense of wine tasting, and it comes from the grape varieties. Taste is another sense that is equally important in wine tasting. We are usually familiar with five primary tastes that include sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami. For experienced wine tasters, this activity can also help to identify the wine’s origin and variety. It helps them evaluate its characteristics, flaws and overall appeal. In that way, we could pair it with different foods that will enrich our experience.

Photo by Ales Maze, Unsplash
Photo by Ales Maze, Unsplash

How to properly taste wine?

Wine is a complex beverage with a wide range of flavours and aromas. These nuances of wine taste can be fruit, floral, herbal and mineral notes among others. If you ever wondered how to properly taste wine, one of the most important details is to choose the right glassware. The wine-tasting glass should be clean with a tulip-shaped bowl that narrows towards the top. This is important because this shape will help concentrate the wine’s aroma. The next step is to examine the wine’s colour, clarity and viscosity. While you swirl the wine you can smell it and you will notice how it releases its aroma. The last step is to taste the wine taking a small sip that will allow you to explore the wine’s flavour.

Where to go wine tasting? Check our list of wine routes in Istria, Croatia

The exceptional beauty of Istria is best discovered on one of its many wine roads surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. Wine routes in Istria offer the widest selection of aromatic domestic wines and other specialities offered by wine cellars. More than 110 winemakers throughout Istrian County are included in the Wine Roads of Istria.

Photo by Ales Maze, Unsplash
Photo by Ales Maze, Unsplash

Today in Istria an average of 20,000 to 30,000 hectoliters of wine is produced within three wine regions: Western Istria – including the areas of Pula, Rovinj, Poreč, Buje, Umag and Novigrad; Central Istria – encompassing Pazin, Motovun and Buzet; and Eastern Istria – covering Labin and Kastav. The same way the Istria wine routes could be traced. Some of the names of the wine routes in Istria are called Bujštine, Poreštine, Buzeštine i Pazinštine, Rovinjštine and Vodnjanštine.

In the western part of Istria, the wine routes will take you to sunny hills and the unique blend of red and grey soils favourable for the grapevines. For example, near the town of Momjan in the hinterland of Buje, a new grape variety has evolved over the centuries, known as Muškat Momjanski. In this area, some of the most prominent Croatian winemakers operate, such as Kozlović, Degrassi, Ravalico, Cattunar, Veralda, and others.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytsky, Unsplash
Photo by Maksym Kaharlytsky, Unsplash

Here you can find some wineries with a long-standing tradition of grapevine cultivation on fertile Istrian soil. For example, the Damjanić winery, which in addition to the leading variety, Malvazija Istarska, also excels in cultivating another traditional Istrian variety – Burgundy.

On the other hand, near Višnjan in the central part of Istria, on one of the Croatia wine routes, the Poletti winery stores top-notch red, white and rose wines in its rich cellars. In guided tastings, you can sample Istrian Malvazija, Merlot, Teran, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Muscat Rose.

In the Rossi winery near Grožnjan, you’ll find up to six varieties of local Istrian wines: Malvazija Istarska, Chardonnay, Muscat, Teran Cabernet Sauvignon and Rose.

And if you are looking for accommodation in Istria, do not miss staying at one of the luxury villas with pool nearby, where you will enjoy the harmonious environment of nature and architecture.