Samarkand Wine Tasting At Hovrenko Wine Factory

Wine Tasting

Not typically known for its wine, Samarkand in Uzbekistan is home to the Hovrenko Winery which offers daily wine tasting sessions.

After spending the whole day trekking around the sites of Samarkand city, what better way to relax than to enjoy local Uzbek and international style wine and cognac tasting!

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The Wine Tasting Session

After a day of immersing ourselves in the beauty of Samarkand’s landmarks, we arrived at the tasting session, eager to unwind and savor a variety of wines and cognacs.

Around a table of fellow international travelers, we were introduced to 10 different types of wine and cognac, complemented by local Samarkand cheese, crackers, and water to cleanse the palate between sips.

Wine and Snacks

The selection included red, white, and rose wines, predominantly sweet but with a few dry options. The wines showcased a blend of locally grown and harvested grapes from Georgia, Azerbaijan, and France.

Exploring Unique Flavors

As the tasting progressed, we were treated to a couple of local cognacs, including one relatively harsh option and one smooth blend of two cognacs that had only recently entered the market.

The grand finale was the distinctive Samarkand Balsam, a dark-hued liqueur boasting intense flavors derived from over 25 different herbs.

With its 45% alcohol content and reputation for health benefits, a small sip was said to work wonders (although we leave the credibility of this to our readers!).

An Engaging Atmosphere

What began as a room filled with strangers quickly transformed into a lively gathering of newfound friends, animatedly discussing the quirks of Uzbek wine and the overall Samarkand experience.

The tasting session offered a unique blend of enjoyment and camaraderie, offering a memorable way to connect with fellow wine enthusiasts – or those just looking for a quick drink!

Empty wine glasses
Aaand it’s gone! Rosy cheeks all around

Reviewing the Wine Tasting Experience

Overall, the wine tasting session provided a delightful break from the city’s famed mosques and mausoleums, presenting an opportunity to immerse ourselves in a different aspect of Samarkand’s culture.

The host’s description of each wine is given in Russian but an interpreter was available to bridge the language gap.

My only criticism is that the wine tasting felt a little rushed – the whole session was over in less than an hour and it might have been better if stretched a little longer.

Nonetheless, the nature of sampling 10 wines in such a short time span allowed for some light-headedness and some extra giggles around a table full of strangers!

The wine tasting is a fun experience for all, from newbie to connoisseur. 

Being a big fan of wine but not knowing so much about it, I was just able to sit back and enjoy the experience, whilst some of the wine buffs could point out the finer details of the drinks.

Samarkand Wine History and Museum

Samarkand’s wine-making journey traces back to 1868 when Russian merchant Filatov established the city’s first distillery.

The distillery gained international recognition after winning a gold medal at a wine and cognac exhibition in Paris.

Wine Museum Samarkand

Forced to abandon his business during the Soviet era, Filatov concealed his popular wines in the distillery’s cellars, in order to save them from confiscation.

These remained hidden until the winery’s reconstruction decades later in the 1930s.

Russian chemist and wine expert Michael Khovrenko later took charge, implementing advanced techniques and creating new and refined wine varieties.

While we didn’t embark on the full museum tour ourselves, the original wines can still be seen in the museum’s basement as part of the winery tour.

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