My most recent travels found me in Prague, where I spent four spectacular days with my husband after disembarking from a Baltic cruise. And, I was delighted to discover that the Czech Republic has more going on than just beer. My intent is not to downplay the beer scene — Prague has rightly earned its stellar reputation with brews — but wine deserves some of the spotlight, too. Prague is such a magical, romantic city that it only makes sense to settle into a sidewalk cafe and sip a glass of wine, whether white or red.
The Czech Republic is divided into two main wine regions, Bohemia and Moravia, with the majority of wine being produced out of the Southern Moravia region. Many of the red and white varietals found in Prague are those also found in Germany and Austria, its neighboring countries. And, good luck trying to pronounce them!
For example, Müller-Thurgau and Veltlínské Zelené (the Czech name for Grüner Veltliner), are two of the most widely planted white varietals. They are lean, crisp and easy drinking, which suited us well since Prague was unseasonably warm when we visited in May.
When visiting Prague, the best way to enjoy a Veltlínské Zelené, is to order a bottle of Hort (below, top left) at the canal side restaurant, Kampa Park, and sit on the deck for a lazy afternoon lunch. Or, come in the evening during sunset and soak in the tranquility while you watch the busy activity across the water on the iconic Charles bridge (header photo above).
We tried another white, whose label can easily be misread at first glance (below, top right)! A Ryzlink Vlašský (also known as Welschriesling), it is a Southern Moravian varietal not to be confused with a German Riesling. In my research, I discovered it’s a breed of its own and it deserves to be. It has a floral nose, clean minerality on the palate, and a little spice on the end.
We also ventured into reds, trying the Zweigeltrebe grape variety (lower left) at a cozy restaurant tucked into a side alley. It featured a high level of acidity that I found similar to a light-bodied Chianti, and it paired well with food. We also had an opportunity to try the Zweigeltrebe blended with Cabernet, named Gryllus (lower right), and we agreed it was the best red we had in Prague, though sadly we only had time to try a few. It had more depth than the single varietal, and had a beautiful lingering finish.
I found myself wishing we had more time in the Czech Republic to make a side trip to Moravia, which I heard has some of the most spectacular vineyards. So, while I was able to check Prague off the bucket list, it looks like I’ve added the Moravian wine region!