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Customs and traditions


Young wine – St Martin’s wine

photo:  (czechtourism.cz)

Every year, on St. Martin’s Day i.e. on 11th November, at 11 a.m. sharp, perhaps every winery and restaurant across the Czech Republic opens the first wines produced that year – the young wine. Because of the date, the wine is also called the St. Martin’s wine. The St. Martin’s tradition is very similar to the French Beaujolais Noveau. However, the Czech ritual is much older.

St. Martin’s wine is the first wine from autumn harvest. The wine is launched onto the market just a matter of weeks after the harvest, so it is intended for instant consumption. Wine producers recommend that this wine should be consumed before the spring begins. No reason to worry, it would not get spoiled anyway; if you do not drink it by that time, it just loses its freshness.

The celebration connected with opening of young wine dates back to the period of Emperor Joseph II. It was him who gave permission to begin serving new wine from the autumn harvest just on St. Martin’s Day. The day was symbolic of the end of harvest work: it was the end of the main farming season and the beginning of winter.

The trademark "Svatomartinské víno" i.e. St. Martin’s wine was not registered until 1995. Since 2005, it has been owned by the Wine Fund of the Czech Republic. The wine varieties and the character of the wine are firmly specified. The brand name "Svatomartinské víno” may be used by any wine producer registered in the Czech Republic who is capable of meeting the strict criteria. 

Young wine is dry, light and fresh, with low alcohol content (usually about 12 %) and with a distinctive fruit-like character. It may include some (limited) carbonic acid gas. Four wine species are used for this special product – Müller Thurgau and Veltlínské červené rané for white wine, and Modrý Portugal and Svatovavřinecké for red or rosé wine. 

On this occasion, it is highly recommendable to eat St. Martin’s goose, goose liver, stuffed chicken, St. Martin’s cakes or special feast doughnuts.  To find an overview of events where you can taste St. Martin’s wine and St. Martin’s traditional feast meals, click  here.
Author: Ivana Jenerálová
Source: www.wineofczechrepublic.cz
Added: 21.10.2010

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