Slovenia has it all, from globally renowned white wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon to special native ones like Zelen and Pinela.
Slovenia boasts a vast array of both white and red wines. There are so many varieties, you might be wondering where to start and which will more likely strike a chord with you. When attending a wine tasting in Slovenia, you’ll have the opportunity to taste a number of varieties of wine produced by different Slovenian winemakers.
To give you a heads up on the types of wines you can find here in Slovenia, let’s take a look at some typical Slovenian wines. We’ll tell you which ones are autochthonous or native to Slovenia. And the rest of the wines we’ll be dealing with here are considered to be particularly suited to the terroir of Slovenia’s wine country.
In this list alone, we’ll be taking a look at only white varieties since there are so many of them. Luckily enough for you white wine lovers. For those of you who are more into reds, then you definitely need to take a look at this list of Slovenian red wines. Here are Slovenian’s most popular white wines.
10 TYPICAL SLOVENIAN WHITE WINES
WELSCHRIESLING (LAŠKI RIZLING)
Welschriesling is a white wine grape variety, unrelated to the Rhine Riesling, that is grown throughout Central Europe. Originating from the Champagne region in France, it was so widely cultivated in the years right after World War II, it became known as Slovenia’s principal wine.
Due to its high resistance to frost and molds, Laški Rizling grapes are perfect for late harvest. Therefore it’s often used for making ice wines. It is established in all of Slovenia’s winegrowing regions with some slight variations according to region. Laški Rizling wines from Brda and the Vipava Valley in the Primorska region tend to be dry and fresh; wines from Podravska (mostly produced in the Ljutomer-Ormož, Maribor, and Radgona-Kapela areas) are richer and more aromatic; while those from Posavska are generally lighter.
Laški Rizling is perfect with saltwater fish like golden bream and red mullet, freshwater fish like salmon and trout, oysters, fish risotto, and fish stew.
RHINE RIESLING (RENSKI RIZLING)
Rhine Riesling, which is also referred to as just Riesling, is often referred to as the king of white wines. It has a long tradition in the Podravska region, particularly in Maribor, Ljutomer-Ormož, and Radgona-Kapela areas.
Young Riesling is fresh and lively, while when matured the wine’s taste and aromas become more balanced with hues of white peach and apricot. A matured late harvest Renski Rizling is one of the best white wines to be enjoyed in Slovenia.
You can enjoy Riesling with your favourite seafood dishes and grilled white fish, or you can even try it with some subtle pork, veal, and poultry dishes.
SAUVIGNON (MUŠKATNI SILVANEC)
Sauvignon is one of the most widespread and internationally diverse varieties. It’s so popular in Slovenia that we even hold an annual festival each May to celebrate it.
As in any country, Sauvignons produced in Slovenia have their own distinct characteristics. Sauvignons from the Primorska region smell of drying hay, while those from Podravska have an elder blossom fragrance. This dry white wine pairs flawlessly with seafood or shellfish such as clams, oysters, scampi, lobster, and crabs.
Chardonnay is undoubtedly one of the most popular white wines in Slovenia and beyond, and can be found in all Slovenian winegrowing regions. In both Slovenia and globally, its taste differs according to where it’s from, the only common factor being the smoky undertone in the flavour. This is due to the variations in micro-climate, which affect everything from vine growth and grape development to the fermentation process and maturing of the wine.
For instance, tasting a Chardonnay from the coastal Primorska region is never quite the same as tasting the one form Štajerska, since the latter is more inland and has a slightly cooler climate. So Chardonnay can present quite a challenge at a blind tasting. Try a Chardonnay as an aperitif, with cheese and light appetisers, or with pasta or fish.
This is the Slovene version of the German Gewurztraminer and is so aromatic and particular that it’s easy to distinguish it from other white wines. The scent is reminiscent of roses, linden blossoms, and muscat.
Traminec is one of the specialties of the Podravska wine region, with the best coming from Maribor, Srednje Slovenske Gorice, Radgona-Kapela, and Ljutomer-Ormož areas. Haloze also produces good Traminec in warm years.
Pair Traminec with trout, salmon, and other fish dishes with special sauces or strong cheeses.
This is also a very popular white wine in Slovenia. It’s also got a distinctive bouquet: that of muscat, which is floral perfume scent. A large part of the Rumeni Muškat production takes place in the Maribor and Srednje Slovenske Gorice areas of Podravska wine region. But it can also be found in the Vipava Valley and Koper areas of Primorska, and Bela Krajina in Posavska.
Rumeni Muškat is best paired with strong cheeses like Gruyere, Camembert, Gorgonzola, or goat cheese.
Rebula is the most widely cultivated grape variety of the Primorska region. It is thought to be autochthonous to this region and neighbouring Italy and has been around in these areas since the 13th century. The winemakers from Brda are producing marvelous wines from this grape variety, particularly orange wines—wines that have gone through longer periods of maceration.
Rebula is dry, fresh, and lively with a neutral aroma that resembles that of cedar. You can enjoy Rebula with saltwater fish or freshwater fish like trout or salmon.
Malvazia is a very popular grape variety in the Primorska wine region. It was brought over from neighbouring Italy in the 13th century. The best conditions for its cultivation are in the Kras and Koper areas.
The wine’s bouquet is intense and fruity with notes of fresh peaches and apricots. Malvasia goes very well with fish and seafood.
Pinela is an autochthonous variety grown only in Primorska. It had to endure a period of abandon, but luckily winemakers began to realise its potential so it’s experiencing a comeback.
It’s got a subtle bouquet with a fresh and fruity flavour. This is a great wine for those who like fresh and lively young wines as Pinela does not improve with age. So enjoy it young with light cheeses, freshwater fish, and pasta dishes with light sauces.
Zelen (which literally means ‘green’) is another autochthonous variety grown only in Primorska. Winemakers disregarded it in the past, but then managed to revitalise it in years of intense cultivation. Its colour is in fact greenish, ranging from yellowish green to emerald green when the skins are fermented with the must.
The bouquet is gentle with hints of green apple, pear, and Mediterranean herbs. In the mouth, Zelen is refreshing with a harmonic, rich taste that recalls green tea and even herbs.
TIME TO DRINK
Yes! Slovenia has some really interesting white wine varieties waiting for you to explore. So now it’s time to try these wines and form your own judgement and experiences. Cheers, or na zdravje!