When asked about the best Croatian wine to gift to a person, the short answer is “it depends.” Whether you get the wine in your local store or via the online shop in the US, more than 80 indigenous Croatian wines on the continent, this can be confusing. The search features help, (you can search by region, variety, winery or price), but I still get questions like “my mother’s birthday is coming up, what is the best wine to get her?” Here is how to solve that dilemma before the holidays — ask yourself these five questions about the “giftees”:
Have they visited or do they come from a specific area in Croatia? The best wine you can give to someone is the wine they are emotionally attached to – whether because of their ancestry or of a memory of vacation. So, pick Graševina for someone from Slavonia, or get a bottle of wine from Dalmatia to help them relive their island-hopping trip.
Do they have a sophisticated wine palate? If so, get them some special editions, or special appellations, like Dingač, Komarna, Plešivica or Motovun and Buje. For example, for a Plavac Mali fan, try some of the reserve Plavac from Rizman, Terra Madre, or Volarević wineries. Selection different styles – from elegant and smooth to very robust one. Including Chateau Mario from Dingač which has been blended with a tiny bit of a white wine, giving it a very sophisticated taste and aroma. Or if Teran is a preferred red, we suggest Kabola Amphora Teran or Fakin Il Primo Teran.
Are they familiar with Croatian wine varieties? If they are, try them on all different styles of one variety, e.g., get a few different Pošips, Malvazijas, or Plavac Malis. Or alternatively, pick a region and select a few bottles from the same area. If they are not, picking a bottle or so from each region might work the best.
If they are more of a low-key wine drinker, what is their preferred international wine variety? For examples, if one prefers a Sauvignon Blanc vs. Chardonnay, we highly recommend Graševina, Grk, or Pušipel. All are crisp and can have citrussy notes. If they are leaning toward Chardonnay, have them taste some Debit or Pošip, particularly if oaked. Similarly for the reds, are they a Pinot Noir or a Cab lover? If Pinot Noir, choose some lighter, fresher, younger vintages of Teran, Babić and Plavac Mali, or if they prefer a big Cab, pick Dalmatian bottles with older vintages, with a lot of oaking and robust aroma.
Lastly, bubbles vs. dessert wine? Knowing their style, you cannot go wrong with a selection of dry bubbles or dessert wines, which all add a lot of pizzaz to any occasion.
I hope this helps you approach gift giving to your favorite Croatian wine lover! If not, if all else fails, you can always choose a Gift Certificate (search for “gift”) to send. Particularly if you are not sure if the wine will arrive in time – the shipping constraints the transport industry is experiencing nowadays make schedules unpredictable.