These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Deciphering a Slovak Wine Label

Slovakia has somewhat convoluted wine-labelling conventions, but learning just a few terms can send you a long way toward finding a good bottle of wine.

The first thing to look for is whether a wine is červené (red), biele (white), or ružové (rosé). Then there's the all-important suché (dry) versus sladké (sweet) distinction.

Next comes the grading system; here is where things get complicated, on the surface at least. Slovak wine comes in three grades: révové vína stolové (table), akostné (quality), and vína s prívlastkom (wine with a special attribute). Slovak table wine tends to be undrinkable. Wine lovers will want to focus their attention on wines from the latter two grades, which tend to be priced in a range from Sk100 to Sk300.

To earn the "quality" rank, a wine must be made from grapes originating from a single variety and region, both of which must be marked. From my experience, wine marked "akostné" is almost always drinkable, and sometimes quite good.

Wine graded "s prívlastkom" is a step up the scale in terms of quality and price. This category is subdivided into several other, smaller categories, ostensibly in ascending order of quality. Essentially, these subcategories reflect the amount of sugar in the grapes before fermentation (which doesn't necessarily determine the sweetness of the final product).

The important thing to know is that wines marked kabinet (cabinet), neskorý zber (late harvest), and výber (grape selection) are likely to be of high quality. The phrases themselves are antiquated translations from German and have little literal meaning.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2003.

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