#21: Macedonia

Year: 2013
Grapes: Vranec
Producer: Stobi Winery
Alcohol: 14%
Source: Chris’ friend Mike

In 2014, I went to six weddings. It really was a brilliant year! So many wonderful friends celebrating their love, and I was so happy to be there celebrating with them. Each wedding was different (giving me ideas that I am definitely stealing for my own!) except for one thing – I wore the same dress to five of the six weddings. Rob and Sarah in May, Brad and Jude in June, Jo and Barry in July, Rachel and Tim in October, and Gillie and Jamie in November. Only Ana and Dave were treated to a different dress – appropriate outfits for South Wales in October or Wiltshire in May could crossover, but Portugal in June is a different prospect!

But I could have worn the same dress to every single one because each wedding shared another key feature – none of my friends overlapped. At each one, I was surrounded by friends or family, but none of them were the same. Cardiff friends who weren’t medics, Cardiff friends who were medics, Cardiff medic friends who intercalated with me and did the extra BSc year, friends from home, friends from my foundation year, other friends from my foundation year… Constantly wearing the same dress started as a way to save a bit of money on what could have otherwise been a pretty expensive year and ended up as a challenge of sorts. Could I really wear it again? And I could, so I did!

As I wore the same dress to more and more weddings, I began to wonder if the way I made friends was abnormal. It certainly wasn’t like the tight knit friendship structures that I saw in TV shows like Friends, Sex in the City or, later, How I Met Your Mother. Those characters were part of a circle; a defined unit that then defined them, and everyone outside was somehow less important. No matter how great they were, Phoebe’s Mike and Charlotte’s Harry will always be secondary characters.

But that’s not how my friendships have turned out. I don’t have one big, important friendship group – I have freaking loads of them! I’m the centre of my own Venn diagram of friendship groups where the uniting feature is, well, me! None of them really know each other, none of them are more than superficially connected, but each of them is perfect and brilliant and important.

Besides, variety is the spice of life! Why expect everything from one friend or one friendship group or even one partner? Why not have loads of different ones to fulfil different needs? Lots of really important, really different people. It sounds perfect to me!

I was thinking about this idea again when we were drinking the Macedonian wine one evening last week. One of Chris’s groomsmen, Mike, had brought it over and joined us for supper in the garden while we drank it. It was a lovely relaxed summer evening that was, fortunately, just what this wine needed.

Just as Chris has written about how getting married involves acquiring a whole new family, having a serious partner involves inheriting a whole new group (or groups!) of friends. And that’s absolutely brilliant! I feel like I know Chris so much better for knowing his friends and I have been overwhelmed by how lovely and accepting his friends have been. (I haven’t ever been in this situation before so this may be entirely normal behaviour but I’m taking it as a sign of quality in his friends!).

So cheers to friends in all different flavours and all different origins. I might take this opportunity to thank everyone who has given us wine for the challenge – Mike and Kate have been particularly generous!

And thank you to all my friends who got married in 2014 (and if I’m honest, a few in the years after too) for inviting me to their ceremony, and sorry I wore the same old dress. It made me happy to think of you as another friend who added another shiny and unique facet to what makes me who I am.

Wine info

From Wines of Macedonia:

‘The word Vranec means strong, black and powerful horse (black stallion), and wine made from this grape variety is associated with strength, potency, and success. Vranec also means raven coloured or black, which is why the wine is known also as black wine in Macedonia.’

And from the Stobi website:

‘The Stobi Vranec Veritas Reserve is made with lower yielding grapes of 8 tonnes per hectare. This means that before the vines bloom, most of the grapes are removed leaving the last cluster to mature without competition, allowing it to accumulate as many polyphenols, anthocyans and tannins as possible.

Intense deep plum inky black colour with aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate, hints of roasted coffee and spicy vanilla oak. An intense wine that is dry, full bodied with a velvety texture boasting a fine tannic structure, depth and a long finish of cocoa and vanilla.’

Wine Verdict


I liked this wine from the first smell – warm, oaky and obviously rich enough to match Delia’s Chicken Basque mouthful to mouthful! It had a fruitiness that reminded me of blackberries and red summer fruits; a taste that was mirrored in its ruby red colour. The taste was thick and rich, fulling my throat with deliciousness.

There was a slightly harsh note to the strong tannin flavour, but this mellowed as it lingered on my palate and ended with a really quite lovely finish!

7/10, delicious!


I’ll be honest, I’m a little hazy on this wine! We drank it outside on a warm evening, with a delicious dinner and excellent company, after a couple of glasses of white – none of which made me want to take detailed notes.  

What I do remember is more spice than I’d been expecting, and an initial sharpness that mellowed and softened after a few sips. Still, it was pretty punchy, reflecting the high ABV, and there was just enough dark fruit for that to feel like an asset rather than a chore. A really decent red for drinking with friends, so I’m glad that’s exactly what we did! 



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