Every Croatian wine label will display the wine's quality level. This is similar to Italy's IGT, DOC, and DOCG quality rankings. Croatia's wine quality rankings are:
Vrhunsko - "top quality wine"
Kvalitetno - "quality wine"
Stolno - "table wine"
These rankings are generally helpful, but some great wines are labeled stolno, or table wine. "You have Frano Miloš," explained Sasha, "who's 2004 Stagnum won a Bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards. The government only labeled his wine stolne, but he's winning awards with that particular wine."
The next thing to look for is the grape name, which is almost always proudly displayed in large letters on the label. Croatia's popular grapes include:
Croatian White Grapes:
Pinot Sivi (Pinot Gris)
Pinot Bijelo (Pinot Blanc)
Croatian Red Grapes:
Pinot Crni (Pinot Noir)
Plavac Mali (relative of Zinfandel)
However, not every label features a grape name, especially in the case of blended wines, and sometimes the growing region is so famous that it takes the place of the grape name. Of course, many labels list both the grape name and the growing region. The wine label to the right features a wine from the famous Dingac region, where some of Croatia's best red wines are made with the Plavac Mali grape.
Croatia has a large number of wine producing regions, and the one's I came across the most during my trip were:
the island of Korcula
the island Krk
Interestingly, many wine labels do not prominently display the name of the winery. The above wine is made by Milicic winery, and the name is half obscured by the growing region. This isn't the case withe label below:
This label below features a wine produced by one of the few cooperatives that still operate in Croatia. For this reason, the winery is simply represented by the name of the town in which the cooperative operates: Cara.
The word "vinogorje" means
These are the most important aspects of a Croatian wine label. To recap, look for quality of the wine, the grape, and the growing region, and whatever word is left on the label is most likely the name of the winery. If you get this down, the label below should pose no problems: