The Vinograf Wine Bar in the Old Town district of Prague is a great place to sample wines from the Czech Republic — most of which never find their way outside the country.
There are familiar varieties such as Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, but it’s a lot more fun to sample native varieties, hybrids and blends. We tried one cuvee that melded two native varieties with just a little bit of Pinot Noir, and it was outstanding — quite similar to a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend from France’s Rhone Valley.
Vinograf features wines from all over Europe, but when we travel, we always try to follow the “When in Rome…” policy. So we asked for a tasting of two white wines, two reds and one sweet — all from the Czech Republic.
It’s always exhilarating to try something new, and we were pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the wines we were served.
That said, we weren’t brave enough to take part in the wine bar’s “Mystery Wine” contest. As our server explained, one had to purchase a glass of the featured wine, and then if they could identify the grape variety, region, country and vintage, they’d get a refund.
Considering that we couldn’t even pronounce any of the Czech varieties we tried, we took a pass.
The country was celebrating “thirty years of freedom” during our visit, and Prague is home to a vibrant food, wine and beer scene. The country is best known for its beers, but in recent years has made great strides with its wines as the growers and vintners have been able to start matching varieties with microclimates.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Czech wine industry, and we can’t wait to go back. Perhaps by then, we might be brave enough to try that “Mystery Wine” contest.