Although this central European country is world-famous for its beers and there is enthusiastic public support for it, wine has been made and consumed since the Czech Prince Borivoj demanding the planting of vineyards in the 13th century. A century later, there were enough grape growers so that an association was formed to guard their interests.
Early on, white wines were popular, but in the 15th century tastes changed. Red wine consumption was the norm.
In the 20th century, Soviet domination made both inexpensive beer and spirits (mainly vodka) popular.
Since 1989 wine consumption gradually increased, as did quality.
The cool climate of the country (located approximately 48 latitude north) favours white grape growing, although some red grapes are also planted successfully in Bohemia.
During Soviet times, quantity was emphasised and high yields encouraged. Capitalization was allowed and widely practised. De-acidification techniques were not known, and many of the white wines were highly acidic.
Fermentation temperatures were rarely, if ever, controlled, and most of the wine was made in large concrete tanks, some of which lined with food grade paint, others lined with fibreglass. Stainless steel tanks were a rarity.
In Moravia, around the towns of Velke Pavlovice, Znojmo, and Slovacko the vineyards stretch for kilometres and constitute 94 per cent of all in the republic.
Bohemia’s small vineyards produce mostly white grapes – Muller-Thurgau, gewürztraminer, and pinot blanc.
The following white grapes are preferred” Muller-Thurgau, gewürztraminer, welschriesling, Riesling, sauvingon blanc, chardoanny, pinot gris, neuburger, Moravian muskat, fruhroter veltliner, and Irsai oliver.
For red wines growers prefer St Laurent, blaufrankisch, Zweigelt, pinot noir, blauer portugieser, and cabernet sauvignon.
The wine laws were designed after the German model and are:
Quality wine (varietal and brand separated)
Quality wines with attribute
Special select botrytis affected
Dry wines must contain no more than four grams of residual sugar per litre
Low alcohol wines up to nine per cent alcohol
Off-dry wines up to 12 grams of sugar per litre
Sweet wines minimum 45 grams
Czech wine production is mostly white (75 per cent) and the wines show good varietal character.
Most of the wine produced is consumed locally, since imported products are highly taxed.