Growing up in the Czech Republic, I remember always hearing people talk about “going to a cellar” for an evening or the entire weekend. I was aware that the activity involved some kind of wine cellar and rather large quantities of wine, but the concept confused me and I certainly didn´t have a clear idea of what “going to a cellar” truly meant.
Moreover, wine tourism in wine regions of the Czech Republic has become increasingly popular lately among Czech holidaymakers. It seems that Czech people are turning from beer drinkers to wine drinkers and “going into a cellar” with a group of friends at least once a year has become practically mandatory. Even though I don´t live in the Czech Republic anymore, I couldn´t resist but to explore this (new) fashion and head over to South Moravia, the area most famous for great wines and hearty people.
First wine holiday
In summer 2014, me and my boyfriend decided to spend one week in South Moravia, finding out why Czech people enjoy this region so much and exploring the world of local wine making. Neither of us had any mentionable experience with wine, except for the occasional glass of red somebody had given us. This lack of knowledge on the subject made me slightly worried, as I assumed local winemakers and establishments would expect you to know a bit more than that wine bottles traditionally have corks.
As soon as we arrived to Valtice, the wine capital of the Czech Republic, our hotel owner invited us into his private wine cellar. Excited to finally discover what an evening in a cellar looked like, we accepted and joined a group of other hotel guests. We could all barely fit inside the 200-year old cellar with only 2-meters high ceilings, but we managed to form a semi-circle around the hotel owner, who swiftly handed a glass of wine to each one of us.
“What type of wine is this?” asked a lady standing next to me.
“White,” answered the passionate winemaker.
And that was it. I finally understood what Czech wine drinking was all about – good wine and good company. And of course a private cellar, where you spend hours drinking the owner´s wines and eating his homemade sausages and pate, getting to know the people around you and not stumbling out until it´s really (really) dark outside.
Hidden gem of the wine world
It is – and it should be – that simple and it is also why I immediately fell in love with wine and especially the Czech wine culture. Compared to wine in countries like France, Czech wine seems amazingly easygoing, yet strong and memorable. Czech wine is about drinking, not tasting. It is about enjoying, not identifying all possible aromas and flavors and then spitting them out into a bucket. After all, most Czech wine I´ve tasted was so delicious, spitting it out is rightfully considered rude. Czech wine represents a hidden gem of the wine world and the reason for starting this blog.