By: Valentina Radulovic
Belgrade, Sept 04 2009 ( Serbia Today) - The history of wine making in Serbia stretches back over two millennia. It was first introduced sometime in the 9th century, around the same time that Belgrade (the capital of Serbia) got its name. With the coming of the monarchy, the Nemanjic dynasty in particular, from the 11th to the late 14th century, the grape growing culture expanded at stupendous rates along with other agricultural industries.
The Prokupac sort, used mostly to produce dark rose, is considered to be the oldest of the local varieties and is noted for its high sugar levels and the high levels of alcohol it can produce.
The second oldest local sort would be Tamjanika, a Muscat sort that originated in Southern France in the Middle Ages but has been grown in Serbia for over half a century. The dark purple fruit is known for both its heavy, sweet smell, which can be smelled from hundreds of meters away, and the rich, fruity white wines that it yields.
There is also the very elusive red wine made from the Tamjanika grape sort. The ‘Black Tamjanika’ is rare, smooth wine of particularly harmonized and strong taste. This happened to be the favorite wine of the later leader of the former Yugoslavia, Tito himself, and it is recommended to be consumed in small doses.
Other sorts raised in Serbia today include the Belgrade Seedless, Sauvignon, Italian Reisling (Rhine), Cabernet Chardonnay, White and Red Burgundy, Hamburg Muscat Afus Ali, Vranac, Krstac, Smederevka and Dinka. Serbia is also home to a rare Muscat Crocant. The winery ‘Sololac’ from Novi Becej makes it, and it is used to make a fine dessert wine by the same name and can only be found on Pearl Island (Biserno Ostrvo) on the Tisa River in the Vojvodina region.
Some of the wine producing sub-regions in Serbia are the South Morava, Srem, Pocerina-Podgora, Subotica-Pescara, Timok, West Morava and Sumadija-Great Morava Regions. Serbia is not currently well known for producing too many excellent wines but with a few large and established producers and new up-and-coming small, family owned vineyards, the industry is once again growing in both quantity and quality. Today there are some 70.000 hectares of vineyards in Serbia, producing about 390.000 metric tons of grapes per annum. Serbia’s wine country makes slow return to prominence.
Some of the most popular wines are Tera Lazarica by Rubin (Krusevac). It is regarded, as one of the finest brands of wine that Serbia has to offer at this moment. ‘Zdrepceva Krv’ (Foal’s Blood) is also very popular. It is a high quality dark, thick, semi sweet red wine from Potisko region. In fact, this very wine was among those served at Prince Charles’ wedding reception.There are many other wine areas, so if you are eager to learn more about Serbian wines you can follow some of wine routes and visit the places where you can try them and perhaps buy some from the manufacturers themselves.
The winegrowers in Serbia celebrate St. Tryphon as their patron saint (14th February). In the same way as St. Tryphon remained persistent and steadfast under persecution, so they believe their patron will grant that long months of labor will pay off with a rich grape harvest and quality vintages.
During the grape harvest, all of the wine regions organize festivities to honor the event. These are wonderful occasions for savoring wine, music, singing and dancing, and most important of all, for enjoying the assorted specialties of Serbian cuisine that accord perfectly with their local w