Although you normally associate Poland with other alcoholic beverages (yes, beer and vodka, we are thinking about you!), wine culture in Poland is strong! Keep reading to know more about it.
THE HISTORY OF POLISH WINE
Polish wino (as is wine in Polish language) has a long tradition, going back to the times of the first founding of Poland, meaning it is about a millennium old. At first, wine was used solely for religious purposes (and thus in monasteries) and was created mostly in the region of Małopolska (known for the city of Kraków), with the traces of viticulture (the cultivation of grapevines) being found on the Wawel Royal Castle grounds. Polish red wine was thus among the first to be created.
Then, slowly, wine became a staple beverage during the mealtimes of those more fortunate which meant that more vineyards were created throughout the country. Hence some of the interesting town names that call of wine, like Winna Góra. Wine was made from the common Vitis vinifera, as well as hybrid varieties and fruits. As wine trade was becoming more popular, introducing international variations to the country, brought the decrease in interest in Polish wine. That, plus the fact that the weather conditions were not ideal for viticulture and that people more often opted for other alcoholic beverages, kept the wine culture in Poland secondary. Also, Polish honey wine was one of the popular choices (mead, an alcoholic beverage from honey) instead.
During the times of communism, just like all other beverages businesses, most wineries were nationalized until the rise of capitalism. Today, Polish wine market is blooming, with over a hundred Polish wines in production right now, and there are even predictions stating that Poland will one day be in the top wine production countries of the world.
DRINKING WINE IN POLAND
Nowadays, the occasions for drinking wine in Poland are not that much different than in the rest of the world. Wine is usually consumed in the afternoon and evening, as a part of a mealtime and is considered a hedonistic treat. You can also order wine in every cafe and if you are a true wine lover, you can explore wineries and enjoy tasting opportunities.
As a tourist, even if you find yourself spending time in the capitol, wine tasting in Warsaw is something to find easily. You can explore a Polish winery almost everywhere else you find yourself to be in the country and you will surely enjoy a memorable experience.
When it comes to special occasions, there is not a specific Polish wedding wine or Polish Christmas wine, but there are some customs that do involve the consumption of this alcohol. For example, an old Slavic tradition calls for newlyweds to share bread, salt and red wine, given to them by their parents at the wedding reception. Also, during winter, one can not imagine going without grzaniec or Polish mulled wine, which is often used to warm yourself up and relax.
FAMOUS POLISH WINES
There are a few Polish wine regions, mostly concentrated in the South of the country (but do note that wine business is only growing), like the regions of Zielona Góra, Podkarpacie, Małopolska…
Do remember that when it comes to wine, it’s your taste and your preferences that are the most important. What works for one person may not necessarily work with another. And if you are thinking of combining wine with Polish food (like pierogi or stews), try going for a red wine first.
You might also find yourself coming across interesting, rather rare wine variations: Polish fruit wine (Polish plum wine or Polish blackberry wine) are one of those, just like is Polish dandelion wine (traditionally used in medicine).
If you are curious, here is a list of some of the most interesting Polish wineries to explore (or winnice, as called in Polish).
Winnica Golesz: Named by the nearby ruins of the historical Golesz Castle, the vineyard was founded in 1982 and is now growing around 7000 grapevines on the area of 2 ha and the vineyard is planning on creating new grape varieties that will strive in Polish weather.
Winnica Srebrna Góra: One of the biggest wineries in Poland, placed in Kraków, at the foot of the Monastery of O.O. Camaldolese.
Winnica Turnau: A modern vineyard with its own processing facilities which offers different varieties and an interesting ice wine made with fruit frozen in winter.
Winnica Miłosz: Located near Zielona Góra, this winery focuses on more traditional varieties which have been cultivated since the 16th Century, but also some of the modern ones.
Pałac Mierzęcin: This is also one of the largest wineries in Poland, located on beautiful grounds with a lake and forest around it.
POLISH WINES IN THE USA
Even though Polish wines are not the most obvious choice when it comes to searching for this alcoholic beverage, you will be able to get your hands on numerous Polish wine brands thanks to the Gods of online shopping. Also, be sure to search your local Polish stores, as they are bound to import some of the most known or liked Polish wines. Polish rose or another Polish dessert wine, Polish white wine, etc, are all to be found outside of Poland, while those that are more specific might require a little bit of searching.
Now that you’ve come to know more about Polish wines, you are all ready to host a Polish dinner! Make sure you’re all set with kitchen accessories from our store!