Slovenia has it all, from globally renowned red wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to special native ones like Refošk and Teran.
You’re probably very familiar with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are two of the most popular red wines around. But we’re also going to help you become acquainted with a few other interesting and tasty red wine types such as Refošk and Kraški Teran.
Here are Slovenian’s most popular red wines.
7 TYPICAL SLOVENIAN RED WINES
PINOT NOIR (MODRI PINOT)
Pinot Noir, which is synonymous with the French wine region of Burgundy, is undoubtedly the noblest red wine produced in the cooler parts of Europe. It presents quite a few challenges for the winemaker because it’s a difficult grape to grow.
This finicky grape variety needs very specific conditions in which it can thrive, and the yield is usually quite low in comparison to other red grape varieties. But there are some Slovenian winemakers that have taken up the challenge to produce some excellent Pinot Noirs. They’re mainly from the Primorska and Podravska wine regions, and there is one specific winery—Tilia Estate—that focuses primarily on this grape variety.
Young Pinot Noir is usually a little rough and dry, with cherry and raspberry aromas, while matured Pinot Noir tastes more velvety and slightly gamy with more nutty scents. It is excellent with simple red meat dishes or venison, mushroom dishes, or with matured mountain cheeses.
BLUE FRANCONIAN (MODRA FRANKINJA)
This vine is known in many parts of Europe and is less problematic to cultivate than Pinot Noir. It thrives on sunnier sites, but is happy growing on almost any soil. In Slovenia, Blue Franconian is produced mainly in the Posavska wine region, and is used mostly in blends together with Cviček, which is a typical wine from the Dolenjska sub-region in Posavska.
Modra Frankinja produces a characterful full-bodied wine that is both fruity and dry with some spicy notes. The aromas can assimilate those of Pinot Noir even though the two grape varieties are in no way related. You can combine Blue Franconian with rich stewed meat, roasts with heavy sauces, or game.
Merlot originates in France and is the essential ingredient of good Bordeaux wines. It also widely grows in many wine regions around the world. In Slovenia, Merlot is very predominant in Primorska, mostly in the Koper area, but also producing great results in the Brda and Vipava Valley sub-regions.
This wine has a gentle, pleasant taste and a characteristic raspberry aroma. You can enjoy it as both a young and mature wine, but when aged it develops great noble qualities and a more aromatic bouquet. It’s also perfect for those who like a woody wine with strong tannins as these are the qualities that can be very easily achieved with aging in barriques. It readily absorbs the aromas of fresh wood, and produces a strong taste that appeals to fans of full-bodied wines.
Merlot is delicious with stewed beef, light game dishes, or pasta with heavy meat sauces.
Here’s another widely popular red wine that’s enjoyed by wine lovers in many parts of the world. It’s a highly valued variety in the Primorska wine region of Slovenia due to its characteristic strength and body. In fact, Primorska is the only wine region in Slovenia that has the adequate natural conditions for the vines to thrive as it favours sunny sites. You’ll find Cabernet Sauvignon in Brda, Vipava Valley, the Koper areas, and even Kras.
Cabernet Sauvignon has a distinct aroma where blueberry and raspberry scents dominate, accompanied by a hint of drying hay. You can enjoy this wine young, but its full potential is reached when aged so it develops a more complex bouquet involving nutmeg and cinnamon. The taste also becomes richer and fuller, with a more velvety quality. With regard to food accompaniment, this goes best with roast meats like beef, duck, or pork, grilled wild duck, and hard strong cheeses.
Cabernet Franc is closely related to Cabernet Sauvignon, also originating from Bordeaux. Like its more popular relative, it grows only in Primorska—mostly in Brda, but also in the Vipava Valley and Koper areas.
Young Cabernet Franc has a characteristic aroma of freshly dried hay, and is not as pleasant as when it’s matured. This wine is ideally aged for four to six years to acquire that much desired elegance. When full-bodied, it goes well with game, pork, and grilled or broiled meat.
This is a very old grape variety known for its dark skin. It is considered to be an autochthonous wine to the regions in which it grows: northeastern Italy, Istria, and the Karst plateau.
Refošk is a dark ruby-violet red wine with strong tannins, and dominant taste of wild berries and plum. You can enjoy this wine when young as it is lively and fruity. However, it can also be drunk when slightly aged and the fruity aromas blend into a more subdued and elegant bouquet. Refošk doesn’t benefit from extended aging.
Have this wine together with cured meat and cheese nibbles, game, or grilled poultry.
Kraški Teran is one of the most talked about local wines due to a dispute over its origin. However, we can say that it’s definitely native to the Karst region where the terroir lends itself highly to this particular variety.
Produced from Refošk grapes that grow in mineral-rich, red Karst soils, Teran wine is rich and full-bodied with a pleasantly earthy bouquet with some fruity notes. You can even distinguish it by its ruby-red colour. It is also known to be one of the healthiest wines in the world due to its high content of lactic acid, iron, and antioxidants.
Teran and Karst prosciutto are the legendary pair of this region’s cuisine, so you can never go wrong when combining the two togher. However, you can even have Teran with boiled ham and horseradish, sausages, and pork dishes.
This comes to the end of our tour of Slovenia’s most popular red wines. What more can we say than enjoy a glass or two of these, and na zdravje (cheers)!
Written by: Denise Rejec