We are going to ignore one part of the St. Martin’s legend which claims that on his feast day (November 11) he should bring the first flakes of snow. Don’t make us tell you what we think should be done with your snowflakes Mr. St. Martin!!!
The more pleasant associations of St. Martin’s Day involve wine. November 11 is the traditional date to roast a goose and drink young wine. The legend of St. Martin begins with him a soldier in present-day Hungary sometime around 330 AD. One cold night, he was approached by a beggar, asking for money. Martin didn’t have any, however, not wanting the man to freeze to death, tore his coat in two and gave him one half. The next evening Jesus appeared to Martin, dressed in one half of his coat. This vision led him to become a monk, and he is now considered the patron saint of soldiers, horses, riders, geese and wine makers.
According to tradition, at 11am on November 11, wineries and restaurants pop open the corks on the first bottles of wine produced that year. Those familiar with the French tradition of Beaujolais Noveau will recognize many of the festivities of St. Martin’s Day. St. Martin’s Wine is the first wine from the autumn harvest. This means it is meant to consumed quite quickly, before spring at the latest. The tradition dates back to Emperor Joseph II who gave his permission to begin serving the new wine on St. Martin’s Day.
If you are interested in trying some local young wine, look for restaurants advertising Svatomartinské víno. Young wine should be dry, light and fresh, with a distinctive fruit-like flavor. To enjoy this holiday to its fullest, be sure to enjoy your young wine with a dinner of goose. Where can you enjoy these treats? Look for signs – lots of restaurants will be promoting the event in-house. Also, the Plzenska Restaurant in Obecni dum proposes some good goose while Cellarius will be popping open some fresh young bottles. Le Papillon will be putting out a 5-star spread.
Photo courtesy of U Modre Ruze