November 26, 2018 – The first in a series of three articles unveiling the most important Istrian wines.
Istrian wine number one and at the same time one of the key domestic red varieties, Teran holds a special place in Croatian winemaking history. It was supposedly first mentioned in the 13th century, and by the 1880s it was the most widespread grape variety in Istria, planted on 90% of all vineyards.
The wine’s strong character is said to be evident while the grapes are still on the vines, as Teran grows in large clusters of densely packed berries with highly resistant skins. Teran achieves its best quality in Istrian inland but also on northwestern Istria’s red soils which are blended with calcareous stone, and thus makes the perfect setting for the fertile growth of this red grape variety that seems to absorb the mineral, iron-like quality of these soils in its grapes.
Teran has an intense, deep ruby red color with a distinctive purple hue, and you will often hear Istrians say that it is the color of hare’s blood. Depending on vintage and terroir, Teran can make earthy, full-bodied robust red wines, both as a varietal and in various blends, but contrary to conventional thought, you can also find Teran that is lighter, more fresh and fruity in character, exuding a distinctively bold aroma of wild berries.
The Istrian giant among wines, Teran has come a long way from the wine of Istrian farm workers and domestic households. It is best at a temperature of about 18-20 °C and traditionally paired with the fragrant Istrian truffles, game and different red meat dishes, but also prosciutto and aged cheeses.
In wintertime, as an old Istrian custom, Teran is traditionally enjoyed as a warm beverage called Istarska supa: the lukewarm wine flavored with sugar, black pepper, and olive oil is served in a clay or ceramic jug, sided with grilled sourdough bread which is to be soaked in it.
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