Yugoslavia has a long tradition of wine-making but, until fairly recently, it was often necessary to make a trip there in order to sample her wines! Since the war, however, all this has changed and Yugoslavia today is a large-scale exporter of wines, most of them happily at the lower end of the cost scale and at the higher end of the quality one.
Yugoslavia makes red, white and rose wines but it is principally for her white wines that she is known. The ‘German’ grapes (RIESLING, Sylvaner, TRAMINER) predominate and German methods are used in making the wines. The results can be superb and are almost never bad. Yugoslavian Rieslings, particularly, are all-purpose, inexpensive wines, fit to grace the most elegant dinner table and able to enhance the flavour of a great variety of food. Riesling grapes are made into commendable wine in several areas of Yugoslavia but, by common consent, the best is produced in the area of Ljutomcr in the north of the country near the Austrian-Hungarian borders.
Yule Log II makes a mouthwatering treat on Christmas day, serve it with lots of tea or percolated coffee.
Riesling made in this area affixes the word ‘Lutomer’ before its name to distinguish it from ordinary Yugoslavian Riesling – and it is a name well worth looking for.
Farther south, the ‘German’ grape disappears and a native variety called Zilavka is cultivated. The wine produced from this grape in Hercegovina and Macedonia is absolutely superb – dry, yet full of flavour and with a refreshing taste. It is one of the least expensive wines on the market and can be described as simply one of the best wine bargains available anywhere today.
Although Yugoslavia is primarily noted for its white wines, it does make several red wines that are worthy of note-and all are currently available outside the country at relatively inexpensive prices. The first (and probably the best) is made in Macedonia from a native Yugoslavian grape called Prokupac; it is young, yet slightly full with a slight tang to it and is quite delicious to drink. Another excellent red wine is made from a local variation on the claret grape, Cabernet
Sauvignon, and is called Cabernet Kosovo, while a third is produced from a grape native to Hungary called Kadarka. Wine produced from this grape in Yugoslavia is called Kavadarka to distinguish it from the original Hungarian wine.
Rose wines, like most roses produced elsewhere in the world, are generally not very distinguished and are intended mainly as local wines to be drunk on the spot and without much discrimination. There is, however, one rose (called Ruzica, which means ‘little rose’ in Serbo-Croatian) which is available outside the country and is of better quality than the rest. It is, like the red wine mentioned above, made from the Prokupac grape and, for a rose wine, is quite full-bodied and strong to taste.
Serve Yugoslavian wines with almost any Eastern European-type food – the whites go particularly well with the kebabs popular in Yugoslavia, with highly spiced salads and ham and pork dishes; the reds go well with casseroles, roasts and charcoal grilled steaks.