A long tradition of naming winds in the Mediterranean can be traced all the way to Homer's Illiad. For instance, Boreas, the bringer of winter, is still in use today.
Now it is called bura (pronounced Boo-rah), a northeastern wind that flows over the mountains towards the open sea, bringing clear, crisp and cold weather. During winter months gusts of bura can reach up to 300 km/h. Another relative of bura is burin, a nightly summer breeze that blows mostly from the NE.
Tramontana is a straight north type of wind similar to bura, minus the strong gusts and the strength. It is much more stable and not so cold like bura, but it also announces clear weather. Its interesting name comesfrom Latin vertus transmontanus, in translation: the wind that is coming over the mountains.
An all-time favourite Croatian coastal wind is maestral. Due to its cooling effect, it determined the building pattern of Dalmatian towns in ancient times. It blows from the NW to W, starts before noon, reaches its peak in the early afternoon, and dies out in the evening with sunset. The lack of maestral in the summer is the harbinger of jugo and bad weather.
The wind blowing in the opposite direction tobura is called jugo (pronounced Yu-goh). It is a SE wind that harbingers bad weather, brings rain and low pressure/high moisture. The wind can be rather gusty, and can cause big, deep waves. The conditions brought on by this wind often put people in a foul mood, so in the times of the Republic of Dubrovnik, courts used to be closed during jugo.
A wide range of indigenous grape varietals combined with an infinite variety of microclimates on Dalmatian islands and hillsides makes wine tasting in Croatia really special.
Plavacmali is the primary red wine grape grown on the Dalmatian coast, producing rich, robust wines high in alcohol (12 to 17%) and tannins. Aromas usually vary between blackberries, dark cherries, pepper, and spices, even cocoa. Best plavac comes from the Pelješac peninsula, and the islands of Hvar and Brač.
Crljenak (kaštelanski) is an old, almost forgotten, Croatian grape variety and a proud parent variety of Plavac Mali. In California it is known as Zinfandel, in Italy as Primitivo. The grapes typically produce a robust red and dry wine which runs rather “hot” for a vintage clocking at 14.5% alcohol. The aftertaste depends on microlocation, but main aromas are plum, blackberry, raspberry and cherry.
Babić grows mostly around Primošten and Šibenik. Wine produced from this grape varietal has a high degree of tannins as well as alcohol (11,5 do 13 %) and is supposed to age well. Almost purple in colour, babić is a gentle red when compared to plavac mali.
Dobričić is one of the most important grape varieties in Dalmatia! It is also a parent variety of the more famous Plavac Mali. Dobričić, famous for its rich ruby color, was first grown on the small island of Šolta. It is a relatively light red wine at 12.2% alcohol. Aroma is pleasant, sweet and mild, and somewhat complex, consisting of caramel, raisins, rose hip, dried figs, even some blackcurrant.
Maraština (otherwise known as rukatac) is another white grape variety present in all of the Dalmatian sub-regions. Very aromatic and juicy wine, with fruit notes and a mineral finish, and mid to high level alcohol content.
Vugava is a rich and strong white wine, cultivated mainly on the remote island of Vis. Deep golden yellow in colour, with strong body and pleasant fragrances of vanilla, cloves, apple and citruses, even sage.
Bogdanuša hails from Hvar. Green to golden yellow in colour it is lovely fresh, light and floral dry white with 12% of alcohol. Its name means "godsend", and Bogdanuša wines play a significant part in Croatia's religious festivals.
Pošip is a local white wine grape grown mainly on the island of Korčula, around the municipalities of Čara and Smokvica. It produces a light-bodied wine with 12-13% in alcohol. Enjoy chilled at about 14 °C with white fish or pršut and paški sir.