Read, Write, Run, Roam

Balkan Red Wine and Promises

I’ve mentioned Balkan wines before, but that was about a trip to a lovely winery near Topola, Serbia. While RHOB certainly likes the fine wine lifestyle, we tend to drink simpler (read: cheaper) wine when we don’t have guests. Enter Vranac.

Vranac (pronounced VRA-knots, kinda) is a red grape that grows primarily in Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. But to many Beogradjani, Vranac is an inexpensive bottle of wine produced by Plantaze, available at most corner grocery stores. You see, I’m not just cheap, I’m lazy too.

Vranac isn’t considered a fine wine here (there are far better local wines) but it is ubiquitous. I wasn’t sure to be pleased or embarrassed when a Serbian guest saw our Vranac collection and exclaimed, “oh, you drink our wine!”

It may not be sophisticated, but Vranac is a good table wine. It’s dry but not full of tannins. It tastes slightly like berries but isn’t sweet. And the price for a  “regular” bottle of Vranac is about $4.00. As Goldilocks would say, it’s juuuust right.

You'll need a cup for mulled wine, young lady

Last night, Muz and I decided to splurge on a more expensive bottle of Vranac. It looked like the regular bottle but claimed to be “pro-corde,” good for your heart. How this was better for our hearts than a regular glass of red wine was a mystery. It was almost twice as expensive as the regular Vranac, but it had a little EKG reading on the label, which meant it HAD to be good, and good for us. (This reasoning is why the FDA labeling program exists, people.)

Our verdict? The subtle difference in taste wasn’t worth the extra markup. And we’re not concerned about the health claims. We plan to leave our hearts in Belgrade anyway.


If the title “Red Wine and Promises” sounds familiar, it’s a 1971 Lal Waterson song with great lyrics, begging to be covered by a new artist.


2 responses

  1. When in Sarajevo, I came to be very fond of a Croatian red wine, Dingac made with the Plavac Mali grape (said to be where the red Zinfandel wines originated) made in ’93 adn ’94. I have managed to get ahold of some Dingac since that time, but I don’t think that it has lived up to my memory – either my palate has changed or the quality is not so consistent from year to year. Or, maybe there are also various levels of quality and we were getting the good stuff back then (probably $14/bottle in 1997).

    Here are a couple of links about the wine:

    Cheers! or Zivili!

    January 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm

  2. I’ll be on the lookout for it here. Perhaps they save the best stuff for locals…thanks for the information!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm

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