Inside Perspective: Talking Wine with an Insightful Croatian Wine Writer

Nenad Trifunovic_DSC4014
Nenad Trifunović: wine enthusiast, writer, and educator

Over the past few months, we have been fortunate to get to know Croatian wine writer, Nenad Trifunović, a bit better. He has also been so generous in allowing us to repost many of his translated wine reviews on our blog to share with all of you. We thought it would be nice to formally introduce him and get a better idea about his perspective on wine. I also encourage you to check out his blog Dnevnik Vinopije (Wine Drinker Journal). It is in Croatian but his insights our worth the effort of translating!

1. Tell us more about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live? What is your “day job”?
I was born in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city. I had a great childhood growing up here. Upon finishing university, were I majored in Economics, I decided to stay in Zagreb. I work as a creative director at a marketing agency. Fifteen years ago I started as an entry level accountant, fell in love with being a copywriter, and today am a partner at the same agency.

2. Why are you so passionate about wine?
My work requires me to have a business focus and writing about wine provides me with a sort of getaway. It is humanizing to be able to produce stuff “for yourself”, meaning the way you believe it should be done and not driven by market expectations. However, the truth is that wine occupies my attention, keeps me calm and focused, inspired, as well as nourishes my soul every moment I spend swirling the liquid in my glass. It is a relationship with a living product and wisdom it provides that I admire as well.

3. Have you always enjoyed writing?
Yes! It began with a love for reading and understanding, which helped evolve my sense of empathy for different perspectives, then came technique, form, structure and joy. Even though I do write about wine a lot, I don’t consider myself a writer per se. But its the wine that stimulates my writing. I simply interpret my impressions of the moment, what the wine tells me and what I am able to hear. Of course, there is a lot of me in there, in a way my writing really exposes my true self.

Nenad's review of Brkić Plava Greda from Bosnia-Herzegovina on his site Dnevnik Vinopije
Nenad’s review of Brkić Plava Greda from Bosnia-Herzegovina on his site Dnevnik Vinopije

4. What inspired you to create your blog site Wine Drinker Journal (Dnevnik Vinopije)?
As I mentioned earlier, I needed to write down my thoughts in order for them not to be forgotten 🙂 Now I think journal is not the best translation because it implies journey. I complete most of the writing from my sofa, and only just recently started to do more traveling, which is important. “Dnevnik” can translate as a diary. That is a more accurate word, a personal diary available for everybody to read and comment. Miracles of the modern age I guess 😀

5. Besides writing for your personal site, do you write for other publications? Do you teach classes on wine or act as a judge on tasting panels?
I have written some contracted articles for publications, and participated in a few tasting panels for wine evaluations. Now my focus is much more on wine education, specifically as it relates to wine culture. Instead of just swirling the glass and laughing to myself while using exuberant aromatic descriptors, or hiding behind a Powerpoint slideshow preaching a class to boredom, I actually spark the passion within participants so they can approach wine with the right mindset, enabling them to educate themselves.

6. Which wine regions are you interested in the most?
My mind could explode right now. I could just have a nervous breakdown! Off the top of my head, and just naming a few, in the Old World: Santorini (Greece), dry Furmints of Tokaj (Hungary), Carso (Slovenian/Italian border), parts of Friuli and Alto Adige (Italy), Sicily and Etna especially (Italy), classic Bordeaux, the Aube region of Champagne with their Blanc de Noirs, Bekaa Valley (Lebanon), Vinho Verde & Douro & Dao (Portugal), Spain, the entire Loire valley from Muscadet to Sancerre where I especially adore Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc. Plenty more comes to mind and of course Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia. Obviously, I think I am too young to focus, right?

View of Croatia's capital city, Zagreb. Photo:
View of Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb. Photo:

7. What is your process for evaluating a wine?
Is it alive? Does it have depth? Does it have a soul? Valorization of a wine is not my thing. One thing is appreciated though: The wine can only be properly assessed once it resting comfortably in your belly 🙂 🙂 🙂 The “process” is always the same.

8. What are some grape varietals or wine producers, particularly from Central/Eastern Europe, you think Americans should know about?
For serious wine crowd in search for the Holy Grail, I will recommend what I prefer. To focus on Croatia: a good Plavac Mali, a good Teran, a good Malvasia Istriana, a good Graševina and a good Pošip or Vugava will do the trick. However, above all else I especially admire the work of wineries like Miloš, Tomac and Coronica in Croatia and Brkić from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Živjeli!

9. What are some of your current favorite wines?
This seems like a logical question with expected answer in a manner of Miles in the movie Sideways. Sort of “lately, I`ve been really into Rieslings” thing, but this is too difficult a question for me. Its crazy I know, but I would prefer not to answer. I appreciate the wine I have in my glass at the moment.

Special thank you to Nenad!
Read his reviews on:

Bibich R5
Piquentum Blanc
Brkić Plava Greda

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