Across Europe, the feast of St. Martin, known elsewhere as Martinmas, means a hearty winter pairing of roasted goose and, in the Czech Republic, St. Martin’s wine (Svatomartinské víno).
Why goose and wine? Legend has it St. Martin once hid out in a goose pen to avoid being ordained bishop and was betrayed by the cackling of geese. While he is said to have spread wine-making throughout France, it was during the 18th-century reign of Emperor Joseph II, that vineyard owners in the Czech lands began visiting winemakers on St. Martin’s Day to sample the new wine.
St. Martin’s wine is light and dry, with low alcohol content and fruity character. Four grapes are used in its production – Müller Thurgau and Veltlínské červené rané for white wine, and Modrý Portugal and Svatovavřinecké for red or rosé wine. The St. Martin’s tradition is similar to that of the French Beaujolais Nouveau, but the Czech ritual is much older.
The medieval custom also falls in November because that’s when geese are fattened across the continent. And there’s a legend: during November, “St. Martin comes on his white horse,” the white horse symbolizing the end of autumn and the wintry weather to come.
In the Czech Republic, the feast is accompanied by red cabbage and dumplings; the official release of St. Martin’s Wine takes place on November 11 at precisely 11 am. This year while the traditional toast will still take place on this date throughout the country, however sales of young wine will begin three days earlier this, due to the good quality and condition of this year’s harvest.
Here’s where to get your roasted St. Martin’s goose in 2019 in Prague this year as well as where to toast with new wine:
St. Martin’s Parade
This annual lantern parade through historic Vyšehrad, led by St. Martin on his steed, is preceded by a short play at the Rotunda of St. Martin. Read more
St. Martin’s Toast at the Botanical Gardens
This Troja event hosted by the Botanical Gardens and Vinotéka sv. Klára, opens the wine cellar to visitors who can taste an assortment of eleven wines from both Bohemia and Moravia. Read more
Festival of Young Wines at Náměstí Republiky
Shop for young wines at this mini-fest in front of the Palladium shopping center. Read more
St. Martin’s Celebration at Jiřák
The JZP farmer’s market on the square promises a selection of goose dishes for pairing with young wine plus activities for kids and musical accompaniment. Read more
St. Martin’s Festivities at Kasárna Karlín
Teaming up with The Real Meat Society this Prague 8 hang-out promises “a heated big top full of quality food, wine from an ecological family winery and an accompanying program for children.” Live music and free entry. Read more.
St. Martin’s Feast at Kyje Culture CenterNovember 9
St. Martin’s Festival at Náplavka
The ninth annual St. Martin’s Festival has ver 25 winemakers, goose specials and live music.
Letná Goose at the National Agricultural Museum
Guided tasting of St. Martin’s and young wines from leading Moravian and Czech producers, sale of wine and various gastronomic specialties. Program for young visitors. Read more
The Karlín Market will serve goose specialties, St. Martin’s wines, creative workshops, face painting, and feature pop music performances. Read more
Restaurants with St. Martin’s menu
Restaurace U Tří Prasátek
Občanská plovárna (Beaujolais Nouveau)
Or cook up your own goose feast with this recipe here!