Southern European wines

Balkan is geographically diverse (plains, mountains, sea) and the long tradition of wine production provide high quality wines. Southern European wines are one of the best in the world.

Southern European wines, countries that produce them:


Wine, as a product of culture is an indicator of the development of a place’s culture. The French notion of ‘terroir’, encompasses culture as a determinant of the product of the viticultural and oenological processes. Although it looks like wine was first produced in the Caucasus region, it is in ancient Greece that it became central to the civilization. At symposia, philosophical and political matters were discussed and wine played a central role.


There are nearly 70,000 hectares of vineyards in Serbia, producing about 425,000 tons of grapes annually. The majority of Serbian wines are produced in local wineries. Major varieties include the Belgrade Seedless, Prokupac, Sauvignon, ‘Italian Riesling’, Cabernet, Chardonnay, White and Red Burgundy, Hamburg, Muscat, Vranac, Tamjanika, Krstac, Smederevka, and Dinka. Some rare varieties survive in Serbia, too, such as the Muscat Crocant.


The wine of Albania is characterized by its unique sweetness and indigenous varieties. Albania produced an estimated 17,500 tones of wine in 2009. The geographic elevation of Albania makes it a perfect setting for wine production. During the communism era, the production area expanded to some 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres). The Albanian wine industry is striving to re-establish an international presence in line with its long reputation as a quality wine producer.


Throughout the centuries, the geographic region of Macedonia – which represents a natural crossroads – has been contested by various kingdoms and empires. Macedonia as the Pearl of the Balkans has diverse terrain which matches her rich history. Her national parks showcase the true beauty of the country. The Republic of Macedonia produces wine on some 22,400 hectares (55,000 acres) of vineyards, and the production was 108,100 tons in 2008. There are also some additional 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of vineyards dedicated to table grapes. The production of red wine dominates the Macedonian wine production, with around 80%. In the European Union ‘Macedonian wine’ is a protected geographical indication (PGI) for wine from Macedonia/Greece, Southern European wines.


Montenegrin wines are made from a wide range of grape varieties including: Krstač, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Vranac. Krstač is an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to Serbia and Montenegro. A high quality dry white wine is made of it. The wine may be rich, of harmonious bouquet and of light yellow colour with 12.5% alcohol. Vranac is an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. Vranac is considered the most important variety of grape in Montenegro, and it produces a dry red wine of a unique taste and character that is synonymous with the Balkans.


There are currently over 300 geographically defined wine regions, and a strict classification system to ensure quality and origin. The majority of Croatian wine is white, with most of the remainder being red, and only a small percentage is rosé wines. In 2005, Croatia ranked 21st in wine producing countries with 180,000 tones.


Ampelographers estimate that Turkey is home to between 600-1200 indigenous varieties of Vitis vinifera (the European grapevine), though less than 60 of these are grown commercially. With over 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) planted under vine, Turkey is the world’s fourth-leading producer of grapes. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s first president, established the country’s first commercial winery in 1925. According to the OIV, the total wine production in 2005 was 287,000 hl. In the first half of 2009, wine consumption in Turkey reached 20,906,762 liters.

Last year’s prize for the best Southern European wines:

Two wineries – the Bulgarian Edoardo Miroglio and the Serbian Matalj Winery – shared the Grand Trophy of the Balkans International Wine Competition (BIWC) 2015.  This is a precedent in the four-year history of the event, but the competent judges have voted decisively for both wines. The winners are the sparkling wine Special Selection Pinot Noir & Chardonnay 2005 by Edoardo Miroglio, Bulgaria and the red Kremen Kamen Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 by the Matalj Winery, Serbia.

The other prizes Southern European wines are:

White wine Trophy

– Serbia, Podrum Janko, white, Sauvignon Blanc 100%, Vrtlog 2013

Red wine Trophy

Serbia, Matalj Winery, red, Kremen Karmen Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Rose Wine Trophy
Bulgaria, Uva Nestum, rose, Syrah, Uva Nestum Rose 2014
Sparkling wine Trophy
Bulgaria, Edoardo Miroglio,sparkling, Pinot Noir & Chardonnay Special Edition 2005

Sweet Wine Trophy

Romania, Cotnari, sweet, Grasa de Cotnari, Cotnari 1984
Best White Dry Wine from indigenous variety/ies
Greece, Sigalas, white, Assyrtiko 100%, Santorini Assyrtiko Barrel Sigalas 2014
Best Red Dry Wine from indigenous variety/ies
Greece, Monemvassia Winery, red, Agiorgitiko 70% & Mavroudi 30%, “300” Red 2006

Best Sweet Wines from indigenous variety/ies

Romania, Cotnari, sweet, Grasa de Cotnari, Cotnari 1984
Stefan Bozhkov, chairman of the commission, together with the members Emanuela Kovac and Emil Maslarski, has given his assessment of Southern European wines label design for the second consecutive year.
The Trophy is dedicated to the memory of the Bulgarian artist Kolio Karamfilov, who is the designer of the BIWC Grand Trophy.

Trophy for the best wine label design:
Despotika Winery, family labels, Serbia

Gold medal:

Villa Yustina, Bulgaria

Silver medals:

Betterhalf, family labels, Bulgaria
33 Rajkovic, Serbia.

Bronze medals:

Avantis Estate, Greece
Crama Ratesti, Romania.

Read more about storage wines and food wine pairing tips.

Sources of this article about Southern European wines.

Southern European wines vineyard

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