One of my favorite experiences in Belgrade so far has been a Serbian wine tasting organized by Still In Belgrade. From start to finish, the experience was very convenient, pleasant and informative.
Booking was done very simply using Still In Belgrade’s email registration system. While email is ‘old school’, it was actually refreshing, as many tourist companies have complex booking systems that can be annoying. There was no need to pay ahead – I just set the time and date, and all was arranged.
For someone who has been living in Belgrade a month and feeling the difficulties of adapting to a complex new environment, this easy success of getting registered to drink some Serbian wine via email in English was very soothing and welcoming.
Joined by my husband and his parents, who came from the U.S. for a visit, we went to Finovino – a wine shop where the event took place. It emitted a warm light as we approached, and when we entered, our eyes traveled along the shelved walls holding rows of wine. Each shelf lit as if it was a peace of art. The warm low light, white walls, wooden shelves, light blue paintings, and black hanging lamps turned the spacious room into a world to be happily lost in. Finovino made me feel welcomed as great libraries, gardens, or sanctuaries do. The warm low light, white walls, wooden shelves, light blue paintings, and black hanging lamps turned the spacious room into a world to be happily lost in. Finovino made me feel welcomed as great libraries, gardens, or sanctuaries do.
Having arrived late due to traffic, I expected Vuk, our guide, to be annoyed. Vuk was professional and welcoming (and not annoyed). He greeted us with a smile, talked about how bad the weather was, and quickly charmed us all. Then he led us to the wine-tasting table where the set up was so enchanting that everything seemed to pause for a moment or two.
A beautiful wooden table was set with rows of sparkling wine glasses and a board of delicious cheeses and meats. Behind the table was a gigantic mirror, which reflected the table and the whole room, making us feel as though we were in a great big chamber. Once I realized that time hadn’t actually paused for me, I joined everyone, sat down and got my camera ready to document.
Vuk’s stories of Serbian wine, history, facts and politics intertwined like a romantic novel and created a cinematic atmosphere. The taste of the wines and the stories of their conception and development was highly enjoyable and entertaining. The selection of meats and cheeses, which paired well with their appropriate wines, was superb. We followed Vuk’s instructions on how to drink the wine, which was hard because the urge to gulp down the wine and bite into cheese was strong. We were happy to have tamed our impulses however, as the wine did taste differently when we took our time and listened (or so I thought at the time, which is what really matters).
We asked many questions and felt informed and educated through the experience,although I can’t quite remember all the details about the wines’ acidity and provenance. I’m afraid I might need to go back!
At some point near the end of our tasting experience, after we had all had more than a few glasses and right about when you start saying “I love you!” to everyone and get serious, our American guests couldn’t stop saying how this was the most enjoyable and informing wine tasting experience they have ever had (and they have had a plenty in the US and abroad). Vuk, a passionate person who has earned important qualifications as a sommelier (which I don’t remember the name of – sorry Vuk!), was pleased to hear our comments and share some of his own history. Then we stopped the serious matters, and proceeded with more pours, and got back to our usual fun loving and wine-glass clinking selves.
The rest was a bit of a happy blur.
It was hard to leave Finovino and Vuk that evening, but we did manage to depart, comforted by a few reasonably priced bottles of wine to take home. Our favorite of the night was called Seduša, named for the rare Serbian grape. The bottle had a colorful woman sitting on the label. The taste is so good and comes with a wonderful backstory. I would write about that story, but I’m afraid I couldn’t do it justice the way Vuk and Finovino can. You’ll just have to go there yourself to hear and taste it . . . .
Tavus is an expat in Belgrade who is on the look out for fun tours, delicious food and kid-friendly places and events in Serbia. She has a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Early Childhood Education. Aside from teaching, she enjoys taking pictures, writing and traveling.