Drink Balkan, Tomorrow Night at Autre Monde

Balkan region has been producing wine for millennia

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By David Hammond

Tomorrow, November 12, Wine Director and Autre Monde co-owner John Aranza, who is of Croatian heritage, will lead a Balkan Wine dinner.

Most wines at this dinner will come from Slovenia and Croatia, both of which have a cool climate conducive to white wine grapes. Croatia has the further advantage of being situated along the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic Sea, where the Mediterranean climates are equally good for red wines.

Never had a wine from Slovenia, Croatia or Serbia? This is your chance.

The Balkan region has been producing wine for millennia, and some of the more intriguing wine products from this area are the "orange wines." Orange wine is not made from oranges but rather from white grapes that are macerated (crushed) and left in contact with the grape skin for up to several months. Sometimes the orange wine is intentionally oxidized (some are made in not-quite-air-tight amphorae), so there are notes of sherry which in other wines might be considered a fault. Aranza assured us that he does have orange wines on his wine list. You should try one, just for fun.

 At the dinner tomorrow, Aranza will be pouring:

  • 2013 Domaine Ciringa, "Fosilni Breg" Sauvignon Blanc, Slovenia – Sauvignon Blanc is a currently an extremely popular wine. You may have tasted Sauvignon Blanc from the U.S. or New Zealand, and if you have it would be interesting for you to try Slovenia's more mineral-y offerings.

  • 2011 Vinarija Francuska, "Taina" Chardonnay, Serbia – Chardonnay is still perhaps the most popular white wine in the U.S., and this Serbian variety is organic and biodynamic.

  • 2013 Pilizota, Plavina, Dalmatia, Croatia – Unlike Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, Plavina is a much lesser known grape that does well on the Dalmatian Coast.

  • 2011 Vuina, Babica, Dalmatia, Croatia – Vuina is the only producer to use the Babica grape; clearly, you will have some relatively esoteric sips at this event.

  • 2007 Kozlovic, "Akacia", Malvazija, Istria, Croatia – The Malvazija grape is grown in Italy all the way down to Sicily; Italy and the Balkans share a surprising number of grapes.

Along with these Balkan wine selections, Autre Monde chefs Dan Pancake, Beth Partridge and Andrew Kerns will prepare a five-course dinner, because if you're going to be drinking wine this interesting, you want some interesting chow, too. It all costs $95, which seems like a good value for dinner and a guided presentation of beverages.

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