Short guide to Slovak grape varieties

You can find some expected and unexpected wines among the production of Slovak winemakers.

Tokaj Wine RegionTokaj Wine Region (Source: Oneclick)

This is an article from our archive of travel guides Spectacular Slovakia.

White wine

    Chardonnay, made famous by its use in Bordeaux, is something of a cliché in up-and-coming wine regions, where heavy wood flavor is used to mask shoddy wine.
  • Devín (Slovak variety), a fast ripening grape variety crossed by Slovak enologists led by Dorota Pospíšilová. It makes a full-bodied green-yellow wine with a moderate spicy aroma, leaning towards Muscat wine.
  • Milia (Slovak variety), a variety crossed from the Roter Traminer and Müller Thurgau grapes. Like its parents, it is an aromatic variety with spicy taste and fine acids.
  • Müller Thurgau, created by a Dr. Müller in the German town Thurgau, is the most widely planted grape in Slovakia. It can make for a less acidic wine than other Slovak wines, but on the whole, is nothing special.
  • Pálava, another local variety, was developed in the Czech Republic. A cross between Tramín and Müller Thurgau, it makes wines that have a flowery nose and a spicy finish.
  • Rizling Rýnsky, known in English as Riesling, is a German grape used to make the world's most celebrated white wine. It's known for a powerful fruit taste and long, acidic finish.
  • Rizling Vlašský, known as Welschriesling or Italian Riesling, actually originated in France. Very popular in Slovakia, Rizling Vlašský delivers a flowery-fruity nose and a fresh, spicy flavor. In bad years, its acidity can be overpowering. In good years, the taste is harmonious.
  • Related article Following Slovakia's wine route Read more Rulandské biele, Pinot Blanc in English. This French grape is a favorite of high-end Slovak winemakers. It makes a complex wine with slight yeast on the nose and a brisk acidic finish.
  • Sauvignon (blanc), when this French wine is done well in Slovakia, the taste is stunningly good: loads of fruit-peach, currants-wrapped in a harmoniously acidic package.
  • Svoj Sen (Slovak variety), this little grown new Slovak variety (Pinot gris x Fetească regală x Riesling) produces wine of a yellowish green colour and elegant fruity aroma.
  • Tokaj, its winemakers depend on the Tokaj region's peculiar climate and landscape. Which is why southeast Slovakia and northeast Hungary are the only places on earth that produce the delicious dessert wine.
  • Tramín is known in English by its German name, Gewürztraminer. One of the world's great grapes, Tramín has a powerful, flowery bouquet and a long, spicy flavor. Small-batch Slovak producers treat this grape with particular finesse.
  • Veltínske zelené, Grüner Veltliner is the most widely planted white grape variety in Slovakia.
Read more about wine in our Spectacular Slovakia Slovakia travel guide: A helping hand in the heart of Europe. Read more 

Red Wine

  • Alibernet and Neronet are hybrids made, in part, from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. They create concentrated, tannic wines with nice fruit characteristics.
  • Dunaj (Slovak variety), another variety of the Slovak grape cultivated to extract the full potential of Slovakia’s terroir. It comes from the triple crossing of varieties (Muscat Bouchet x Oporto) x St. Laurent. Dunaj (Danube) wines have a beautiful ruby red colour with a wonderful fruity character, fine tannins, a pronounced fullness of flavour with notes of overripe cherries, which may be overtaken with a chocolatey aftertaste.
  • Frankovka modrá, known in English as Blaufränkisch widely planted in Austria and southern Germany, makes, at its best, a red with racy acidity balanced by tannins. It's usually well extracted and has an inky color.
  • Hron, Nitria, Rimava and Váh (Slovak varieties): All four are Slovak wine grape crossings of the Southwest France wine grapes Abouriou and Castets named after Slovak rivers. They produce cabernet-type wines of a dark colour that are full bodied and velvety with huge aging potential. These varieties are very pronounced, with medium levels of fructose. They demand frostless locations and deep soils.
  • Modrý Portugal, an Austrian grape, makes a light red suitable for chilling and summer drinking.
  • Rulandské modré, Pinot Noir in English, is the chief ingredient in Burgundy's famous reds. Slovak Pinots have a brick-red color, and give hints of raspberry.
  • Svätovavrinecké, St. Lawrence in English, is used by small wineries to make a powerful, well-extracted red worthy of a steak. The Hacaj winery in Pezinok gives this French grape a light, summery twist.
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