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Gratitude and good things
If you are a regular reader of my columns, you might note that I have slowed down, somewhat, in my writing and publication. While I used to regularly publish about one column per week, that output seems to have slowed to about once every ten days or so, maybe even once a fortnight as our British friends say (I still have to look up the word to remember what it means – which is two weeks or 14 days).
I do have a reason for slowing down (and no, it is not my advancing age, thank you very much). It seems to have more to do with increased workload at my office, and some family issues which have taken their toll on me and other family members, at least mentally and emotionally. Either way, I’m grateful for both – the increased work (it’s nice to get paid) and the family issues (even though they can be exhausting). I am grateful for both the good, and the seemingly bad. Why? Because it is impossible to be happy if you are not grateful. Happiness is a choice. And I choose to be happy by first being grateful, no matter what the circumstances.
With that as an overly long introduction, let me now move on to good things, and good things in Macedonia for which I am grateful.
I recently returned from a visit to Macedonia (yes, in the dead of winter), and, among being able to spend time with family and friends, I found a wonderful, joyous, lovely little wine bar, Wine Berry. The genesis of this find was that someone had posted a picture on the Twitters of a bottle of a Vranec Barrique from a winery named Naumchevi. Being a wine aficionado, and especially a Macedonian wine aficionado, I was intrigued: I had never heard of this winery and I know of about 20 or so active Macedonian wineries.
I asked the gent who had posted the picture of this wine: “Where did you find such a wonderful thing?” He told me about Wine Berry so on the third day of my visit I went out and found it at Mitropolit Teodosij Gologanov 32-36, right next to the Vero on that street. I went in and was greeted by Jaci, the owner and hostess and began to learn of new and wonderful wineries throughout Macedonia.
Let me first stop here and explain something about Wine Berry. Jaci has been in the wine business for years, having worked with some of the biggest wineries in Macedonia. Last November, she opened up her establishment, an intimate wine bar, where one can have just a taste – a teaser almost – of any wine that she is selling. About half of her wines are foreign and the other half are Macedonian wines – but not the big wineries. You will not find Tikves, Bovin, Skovin or Stobi there. Instead, she carries about 25 or so wineries that you have never heard about – until now.
Wineries such as the aforementioned Naumchevi, along with Peshkov, Jakovlevski, Zaharchev, Popovi and Kerem dominate her shelves offering beautiful reds (Vranec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and more), enchanting whites (Temjanika, Chardonnay, Viognier, and more), and delicate rosés including Macedonia’s own endemic grape, Stanushina. All unique, all with their own stories. In fact, the tag line for Wine Berry is “A different wine story.”
Now, back to the tastings.
A standard wine tasting pour is about 1.5 ounces or 4.5 centiliters. Somewhere between a splash and a glass, really. You can have a few sips to get the overall nose, mouthfeel, and finish, and then determine if you want more – such as a full glass, or even a bottle (if you are with someone, preferably!). Wine Berry is the first place in Macedonia where I have found such an offering. Which allowed me, in three days, to sample, taste, and overwhelmingly enjoy 41 Macedonian wines. And what delights they were.
The bar has a handful of small tables with chairs, all very intimate. If you purchase a glass of wine or more, you’ll receive a small plate of olives and peanuts along with still or sparkling water, all gratis from the bar (the tastings are complimentary too). And if you want, they also offer two mezze plates with, appropriately, cheeses and meats, for purchase.
During my six or seven visits to Wine Berry (often bringing friends) I fell in love, over and over again, with Macedonian wines and was reminded of how many good things come from Macedonia. In the world of wine, Macedonia creates exceedingly good wines: big, bold, jammy, fruit-forward wines; delicate, crisp, and subtly floral wines; and wines that, for me a somewhat wine connoisseur, are just not easy to describe – so I guess you’ll simply need to go try them for yourself.
In our extensive discussions, Jaci told me about new grapes in Macedonia I had never heard of and how some wineries were making new wines from those grapes. We talked about the history of Macedonian wines, the importance of getting folks from around the world exposed to Macedonian wines (and the various ways of accomplishing that), regional wines, and much, much more. Her knowledge of Macedonian wines, needless to say, is broad, her enthusiasm deep, and her love of all things Macedonian viticulture is boundless.
I hope this column inspires you – especially if you are reading this from Macedonia or planning on visiting soon – and I hope you find a newfound appreciation for the many good things in and from Macedonia – even if you don’t drink wine!
My next column (hopefully not a fortnight from now) will also focus on what I consider to be more good things in Macedonia. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a glass – or a bottle – of Macedonian wines from Wine Berry.