Croatian Wine Varieties

June 10 2024 Explore 10 Croatian wines to savor on your holiday, tasting rich flavors and unique characteristics of each.
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Embarking on a Croatian holiday offers more than breathtaking landscapes and a rich historical tapestry; it introduces you to a world of exquisite wines that are as diverse as they are flavorful. Croatia’s unique climate and terrain have fostered the cultivation of numerous grape varieties, each producing wines with distinct character and taste. Whether you're a seasoned sommelier or a curious novice, exploring Croatian wines provides a delectable dimension to your travel experience.


Plavac Mali


Plavac Mali, a robust red wine, is indigenous to Croatia and primarily found along the Dalmatian coast. This grape is a descendant of ancient varieties with a rich history, closely related to Zinfandel. Plavac Mali thrives in the harsh and rocky terrain of the region, drawing its unique flavor from the intense Adriatic sun and mineral-rich soils. The wine is known for its deep, dark color and strong, characterful flavor, brimming with dark cherry, blackberry, pepper, and spice notes. Its high tannins and alcohol content make it both complex and highly memorable.


Popular wineries producing Plavac Mali


Several wineries across Croatia are renowned for their exceptional Plavac Mali, including the acclaimed Grgić Vina, located on the Pelješac Peninsula. This winery is noted for its meticulous cultivation methods and the rich, full-bodied profile of its Plavac Mali. Another notable producer is Stina Winery on Brač Island, which utilizes the rocky limestone soils to enhance the grape’s natural flavors. Here, visitors can enjoy tastings that highlight the distinctive qualities brought out by the local terroir.




Graševina, known internationally as Welschriesling, is Croatia’s most widely planted white wine grape. It produces fresh, aromatic wines with a delightful balance of sweetness and acidity. Graševina wines typically exhibit flavors of green apples, citrus, and floral notes, making them both refreshing and easy to drink. The acidity is well-balanced, providing a crisp finish that complements a diverse range of flavors.


Best regions to taste Graševina in Croatia


The best Graševina wines are primarily produced in the eastern part of Croatia, particularly in the Slavonia region and along the Danube River. The terroir here is characterized by rich, fertile plains which contribute to the lush vibrancy of this wine. Towns like Kutjevo and Daruvar host numerous vineyards and wineries where visitors can sample various iterations of Graševina, showcasing subtle differences influenced by the specific microclimates and soil compositions.


Food pairings with Graševina


Graševina's light and crisp nature makes it an excellent companion to a variety of dishes. It pairs wonderfully with:

  •  Fresh seafood, particularly shellfish and white fish, emphasizing the wine’s citrus notes.
  •  Light poultry dishes, where its acidity cuts through the richness.
  •  Creamy pasta dishes and risottos, as the wine’s crispness provides a nice balance to creamy textures.

Additionally, Graševina can complement spicy foods, as its sweetness can temper the heat, making it a versatile choice for many culinary styles.


Malvazija Istarska


Malvazija Istarska, also known as Istrian Malvasia, is one of Croatia’s most beloved white wines. Originating from the picturesque Istrian Peninsula, this wine is prized for its versatility and distinctive floral and citrus aromas. A glass of Malvazija typically expresses notes of acacia flowers, green apples, and sometimes a touch of almond. It’s particularly celebrated for its refreshing acidity and smooth, mineral finish which pairs beautifully with seafood, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Recommended wineries to visit for Malvazija Istarska tasting


To fully experience Malvazija Istarska, consider visiting some of Istria’s esteemed wineries. Kozlović Winery, situated near the town of Momjan, offers lush vineyard views and a modern tasting room where you can explore various expressions of Malvazija. Another notable mention is Meneghetti Wine Hotel and Winery, known for its luxurious setting and exceptional wines. Don’t miss stopping by Vina Matošević, where innovative winemaking techniques meet tradition, offering an insightful peek into the evolution of Malvazija Istarska.




Teran, a robust red wine, holds a deep-rooted place in Croatian winemaking history, especially in the Istrian region. It’s made from the indigenous grape variety known as Terrano which thrives in the red soil rich in iron, contributing to the wine’s vibrant color and unique taste profile. Historically, Teran was recognized for its purported medicinal properties, with local folklore praising its capacity to boost blood health. Today, it stands as a symbol of Istrian winemaking tradition, admired not only for its depth of flavor but also for its cultural significance.


Notable characteristics and flavor profile


Teran is well-known for its vivid ruby red color and intense fruit flavors. You can expect a palate of dark berries, such as cherries and blackberries, accompanied by subtle hints of violets and earthy undertones. It's a full-bodied wine with significant tannins and a slightly pepper-spicy finish which makes it an excellent companion to gamey meats and truffled dishes. The robust nature of Teran also means it has great aging potential, often developing more complex flavors over time.




Pošip is a white grape that originally hails from the island of Korčula, situated in the Adriatic Sea. This grape variety is celebrated for producing full-bodied wines with a rich texture. A sip of Pošip furnishes a delightful array of aromas ranging from citrus and floral notes to hints of tropical fruits like apricot and fig. Not only does it present a complex and inviting aroma, but it also offers a balanced acidity that makes it a perfect accompaniment to seafood and white meat dishes. Its robust nature features a high potency, generally resulting in wines that are both potent and elegant.


Where to find the best Pošip wines in Croatia


To taste the finest Pošip wines, a journey to its native Korčula is essential. Here, local wineries have mastered the art of drawing out the grape’s fullest potential. Additionally, the nearby Pelješac peninsula and the island of Hvar also produce exquisite versions of Pošip wine. Wineries in these areas welcome visitors with tasting sessions and tours, providing an immersive experience into the local wine culture.




Babić, a red wine made from grapes grown specifically in northern Dalmatia, is recognized for its intense dark color and robust taste. This wine is often described as having a rich, savory flavor profile with notes of blackberries, cherries, and sometimes even a hint of pepper and spices. It's a wine that manages to be both powerful and smooth, with a lingering finish that encourages another glass. As it ages, Babić develops more rounded flavors, showcasing a blend of fruit and earthy tones.


Regions known for producing quality Babić wines


The best Babić wines are predominantly found in the Šibenik-Knin region, where the grape has thrived for centuries. The specific microclimates and the stony soil of this area create an ideal environment for Babić vines. Wineries around the towns of Primošten and Šibenik, in particular, are renowned for their high-quality production. If you find yourself in Croatia, visiting these regions provides an excellent opportunity to delve into the exquisite world of Babić wines through local wine tasting tours.




Nestled on the steep, sun-baked slopes of the Pelješac Peninsula, Dingač is not just a location, but a benchmark for quality within Croatian winemaking. This red wine, primarily made from the Plavac Mali grape, carries a robust flavor profile with hints of dark cherries, blackberries, and a distinctive peppery spice. Its esteemed status is protected by law, similar to the French AOC guidelines, ensuring that any bottle labeled Dingač delivers an unparalleled taste experience.


Vineyards offering Dingač wine tastings


For a true taste of this luxurious wine, a visit to some local vineyards that offer tastings is a must. Notable vineyards include:

  • Bura Mrgudić Estate: Nestled in the heart of Dingač region, this estate offers an intimate tasting experience with spectacular views.
  • Vinarija Dingač: Renowned for their knowledgeable guides and extensive selection, this vineyard allows you to explore various vintages of Dingač.

Each location offers a unique insight into the meticulous care that goes into producing each bottle of Dingač.




Frankovka, known internationally as Blaufränkisch, is a dynamic yet underappreciated red wine grape that thrives in the continental parts of Croatia. It produces wines that are full-bodied and tannic, with a lively acidity and flavors of blackberries, spices, and sometimes smoky undertones. Aging in oak barrels adds a complexity that hints at vanilla and roasted coffee, making it a fascinating wine for those who enjoy exploring deep and intricate flavors.


Frankovka's place in the Croatian wine scene


While not as globally recognized as some other varieties, Frankovka holds a special place in the Croatian wine scene. It represents the bridge between the country’s robust coastal wines and its delicate continental varieties. Increasingly, local winemakers are elevating Frankovka with modern winemaking techniques, showcasing its potential on both the national and international stages. It pairs wonderfully with traditional Croatian dishes like peka and roast meats, encoding it deeply into the country's culinary heritage.




Debit is a white wine grape that is primarily grown in the coastal regions of Croatia, particularly Dalmatia. This grape variety tends to produce wines that are light, crisp, and somewhat aromatic, making it a delightful choice for those who enjoy refreshing, easy-drinking wines. Debit wines often exhibit subtle floral aromas paired with citrus and mineral notes, reflecting the rocky terrains and mild climate in which they thrive.


Hidden gems for tasting Debit wines in Croatia


If you're looking to experience the charm of Debit wines firsthand, several wineries in Croatia offer an authentic tasting experience. Consider visiting the picturesque Bibich Winery in Northern Dalmatia, where you can try their renowned Debit alongside local culinary delights. Another must-visit is the family-owned Skradinski Buk winery near the Krka National Park, offering a cozy setting to sip and savor the unique flavors of this variety. These places not only provide an opportunity to taste Debit in its natural habitat but also offer a glimpse into the traditional winemaking practices of Croatia.




Lasina is a rare and intriguing red wine grape found almost exclusively in the region of Northern Dalmatia. This grape variety typically produces wines that are deeply colored, showcasing vibrant hues of ruby and purple. Lasina wines are known for their robust and complex flavor profile, featuring a blend of red fruits like cherries and plums, coupled with hints of spices and a subtle earthiness. These wines are well-balanced, with a good structure and smooth tannins, which makes them excellent for ageing.


Experience Lasina's flavor profile in Croatian wineries


To truly appreciate the distinctive qualities of Lasina, visiting local Croatian wineries that specialize in this variety is a must. Winery Jarebica in the hinterlands of Dalmatia offers an immersive experience, where Lasina is cultivated using traditional methods that have been passed down through generations. Another spot, Vinska Kuća, nestled in the rolling hills near Šibenik, provides a perfect backdrop to explore the depth and richness of Lasina wines. These wineries not only offer tastings but also share stories of the heritage and craft that shape this exceptional wine.


Croatia is a hidden gem in the world of wines, offering a plethora of unique varieties that reflect both its rich tradition and the diversity of its climates and soils. Whether you favor crisp whites, robust reds, or something sweet and sparkling, Croatian wines provide something for every palate. Sampling these top ten wine sorts is more than just a tasting experience – it's a voyage into the heart of Croatia’s vibrant culture and scenic landscapes. Make sure to visit local wineries, engage with the winemakers, and soak in the beautiful surroundings to get the most out of your Croatian wine adventure. Cheers to a delightful journey of taste and discovery!

Written by Igor