Pálava – the original Czech wine

Pálava is probably the most characteristic Czech wine variety that I can think of. Not only because it is one of the most popular wine varieties in the country, but also because it was originally cultivated in the Czech Republic by a Moravian winemaker and named after a local hill. On top of that, Pálava is grown only in the Czech Republic and on a very few spots in neighboring Slovakia.   

Pálava is a very young grape. Its roots date only to 1953, when Ing. Josef Veverka first crossed two grape varieties, Müller Thurgau and Gewürztraminer (Tramín červený). Afterwards the Moravian winemaker spent two decades growing the hybrid grape in the foothills of a hill called Pálava, which gave the wine its name, and in 1977, Pálava eventually became an officially recognized wine grape variety.

Less aromatic than Traminer, more interesting than Müller Thurgau

Pálava inherited only the best from its parents. Thanks to its mother Gewürztraminer, Pálava is beautifully aromatic and full-bodied, while Müller Thurgau gave its offspring a nice freshness and softness. If made properly, this white wine is therefore slightly spicy, has a golden color and an intense aroma with hints of vanilla, roses, apricots or tangerines. The taste is rather sweet, even though Pálava is technically not a sweet wine. In any case, Pálava is one of my most favorite (if not the most favorite) varieties and goes well with spicy food or desserts (depending on the particular bottle, of course).

If this wine description sounds like something you would enjoy, then you will almost definitely need to travel to the Czech Republic, particularly to the area of Pálava, such as towns of Mikulov or Velké Bílovice, where the grape variety originates from. Although Pálava is greatly popular among Czech wine drinkers, like most of the Czech wine culture, it has not yet found the way outside of its home country.

Pálava always comes in bottles!

A little warning though, a real Pálava is always sold in bottles! This might sound strange to a non-Czech ear, but the natives know that there are many wine shops all over the country, where you can actually buy wine “from tap” or straight from the barrel. (You simply bring your own container or ask for an empty plastic bottle and the chosen wine is poured directly into that in any quantity you wish.) However, Pálava is so rare that no winemaker ever simply sells it by a barrel, they always put it into proper glass bottles. So if you are offered Pálava from the tap, you are most likely not going to end up drinking this lovely wine, but some mixture of Müller Thurgau and Muscat.

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