There’s nothing better than having a nice dinner after whole day motorcycle ride. Why? Well, most of us want to ‘seize the day’ and don’t want to lose precious time for lunch, especially if the weather is nice. Most of the time while on your motorcycle adventure, you’ll do a short coffee break, grab a quick bite for lunch and ride off. In the evening, you’ll relax and find a nice restaurant using your knowledge of Croatian food (that you picked up reading our ‘Food in Croatia‘ post) to order something magnificent.
But, if you won’t be riding a motorcycle any more that evening, an important question will come to your mind- what to drink? Depending of your habits, you’ll ask yourself-is Croatia known for its wine… wine in Croatia? Are there any breweries? Red or white? Dark or light?
Croatia and ‘rakija’
If you like your (occasional) strong drinks (shooters), be sure to try ‘rakija‘ while in Croatia.
Sometimes, you’ll be asked to have it as an aperitif (before a meal) but normally it is taken as an digestif (after a meal). Hope you got the point- Croatians (can) drink it any time! Produced by distillation of fermented fruit, ‘rakija‘ is the most common spirit in Croatia- there are many recipes that are kept as secrets passing on from one generation to another. Average alcohol content is around 40%, but can also be higher (especially home made ones) so be careful when deciding to go for the second (or third…. fourth?) one.
Some say Croatians can produce ‘rakija’ out of everything, and that’s actually true. Varieties depend of the region you’re riding; so in this post, we’ll stick to the most common ones. In north Croatia, you’ll be offered to try ‘šljivovica‘ that is ‘rakija’ made out of plum, or ‘viljamovka‘ made out of pear. In Istria, you’ll be able to try ‘Biska‘ made out of mistletoe; and in south, ‘travarica‘ (made out of different herbs or weeds). Few more common ones are: ‘medica‘ (made out of honey), ‘loza‘ (grapes and herbs), ‘marelica‘ (apricot). There are also ‘višnjevača‘ (cherry) and ‘orahovac‘ (walnuts) but those can be considered as liqueurs ’cause are sweet and not as strong.
Hm….. can I get a Budweiser?
Yes, you can. So that does it about beer.
Just kidding! Of course you’ll want to try something different. In Croatia, most of beer is lager beer (more then 80%), with ‘Karlovačko‘ and ‘Ožujsko‘ being the most famous. ‘Ožujsko’ is produced by ‘Zagreb’s brewary’ together with a porter ‘Tomislav‘ and wheat beer ‘Ožujsko wheat‘. There is also Calsberg brewery that produces ‘Pan‘. Those are mass-market brands; but there are also several smaller, less known yet available beer types. Ličanka brewery produces excellent, more ‘flavourish’ ‘Velebitsko light‘, ‘Velebitsko dark’ and ‘Kasačko‘ (mix of light and dark) beer and all are certainly worth trying. East Croatia will offer ‘Osječko‘, ‘Vukovarsko‘ (unpasterised) and ‘Daruvarsko‘. In Istria, Buzet brewery produces ‘Favorit‘ beer.
Recently a small brewery in Istria, called ‘Bujska Pivovara’, started to offer something different and much more similar to various micro-breweries around the world. Their San Servolo beer is definitely a new taste on Croatian beer market and we hope to have more small breweries like that in future.
Last, but definitely not the least, Medvedgrad brewery in Zagreb is the way to go if you’re into beer. Lager ‘Zlatni medvjed’, dark ‘Crna kraljica’, mix of lager and dark ‘Mrki Medvjed’, wheat ‘Dva klasa’ and extra strong ‘Grička Vještica’ are their products for real connoisseurs, so be sure to stop by if spending a night in the capital.
Wine in Croatia
History of producing wine in Croatia takes us all the way back to the ancient times, when Greek colonies like Korkyra (Korčula), Issa (Vis) or Pharos (Stari Grad, Hvar) existed on this territory. So, over 2.500 years back- meaning there got to be some results. And there are, many.
Trying to summarize, we’ll explain about the classification of wines in Croatia, about the differences of regions and finally- products, wines themselves.
Wines are classified by a highly developed classification system, that ranks them into three categories
- ‘Vrhunsko vino’ (premium quality wine),
- ‘Kvalitetno vino’ (quality wine),
- ‘Stolno vino’ (table wine).
Total, there are more then 300 defined wine regions so you can be sure your motorcycle tour in Croatia will pass through many wine roads, wine cellars and small wineries. As in most of Croatia related topics, we’ll divide Croatia into two biggest areas- warmer continental areas and the coastal area around Adriatics that ‘enjoyes’ Mediterranean temperatures.
Starting from northeast (Slavonija), we need to mention ‘Graševina‘, ‘Silvanac‘ (Sylvaner), ‘Rizling‘ (Riesling), Chardonney, Sauvignon Blanc, ‘Frankovka’, Pinot (blanc and grey) etc.
In central and northwest Croatia (Međimurje, Zagorje, Plješivica, etc.)- Pinot gray, Riesling, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, ‘Traminac’, ‘Muškat’, ‘Moslavac’, ‘Škrlet’ and ‘Kraljevina’, are mostly produced. What is typical for this region, is a combination of white wine and sparkling water, called ‘gemišt‘. Usually, lower quality wine is used.
Istria is famous for its Malvasia, Cabernet Souvignon, Merlot, Teran, Chardonnay, Pinot, ‘Vrbnička žlahtina’ (Island of Krk) etc.
Dalmatia brings out many important areas like Hvar, Korčula, Pelješac- known for many prize awarded wines and wineries. With ‘Dingač‘ being the most famous, Pošip (Island of Korčula, Island of Hvar), Debit (north and central Dalmatia), Plavac mali (Pelješac peninsula, Island of Hvar), Plavina-Babić (Šibenik-Primošten region), Grk (Island of Korčula) and Merlot are all worth mentioning. In Dalmatia, desert wine called ‘Prošek‘ is also very famous. Opposite to mentioned ‘gemišt’ in northern Croatia, it is pretty common to have a ‘bevanda‘ in Dalmatia- combination of red wine and still water.
So, no matter where your motorcycle tour in Croatia takes you to, you’ll now be familiar with both local drinks and FOOD. For the ones wanting more, you can check out this cool review of Croatian wines made by WineLibraryTV.
This time, we really can say- cheers!