In recent years, Prague has been attracting more and more visitors who are interested specifically in the local cuisine and beverages. Besides regular food tours there are also special one-off events, such as the Natural Born Butchers’ wine tasting party inspired by the pig slaughter season, combining mostly Bohemian and Moravian wines and specialties made from a traditional Czech breed of pig.
The Jatka78 multipurpose hall in the Prague district of Holešovice is slowly filling up with guests for an unusually laid-back evening of wine tasting. The venue, a former slaughterhouse, has been chosen by the organisers for a reason. As February is a time of traditional pig-slaughtering events in this country, the delicious wines were complemented by pork dishes.
Titled “Natural Born Butchers” the event is organised by the Družstvo or “Collective” pop-up wine bar, a group of Prague-based sommeliers. Just before the doors opened, I spoke to one of them, wine blogger Jan Čeřovský.
“We are actually six friends who are in love with wine and mainly natural wine with as few additives as possible and our task is to present those wines to as many people as possible in a very informal environment, much closer to a party than a typical wine tasting.”
The Družstvo project are hoping to expand to Brno and other locations around the country, after having organised successful wine tasting events in Prague and Vienna, tonight’s pork-themed one being their sixth.
“The food is from a very well-known Czech company that makes meat dishes basically from nose to tail, with the whole animal used. So this is one part. And another part are again natural wines, interesting ones that should go well with this kind of cuisine but they should be very well drinkable alone.”
Are they wines from Bohemia and Moravia or also abroad?
“Mainly Bohemia and Moravia but also from abroad. Tonight we have wines from Serbia and Slovenia and one wine from Argentina.”
Can you describe the wines from the Czech Republic?
“It’s mainly smaller winemakers, not big brands. It’s actually quite widespread. One wine is from the really northern tip of the Czech Republic, very close to Chomutov. Other wines are from the southern part of Moravia. And they are from smaller winemakers. Some of those wines are really just a couple of hundred bottles, a couple of thousand maximum, it’s really boutique wineries. Some of them are quite unknown varieties, like Sevar which almost nobody knows here. Some of them are well-known varieties, like Rhine Riesling, but in this case it’s made using the now very popular pét-nat method, pétillant-naturel, so it’s slightly sparkling, very refreshing wine. So I hope it will be interesting for the visitors.”
The food, traditional Czech pork specialties with a modern twist, has been supplied by the Prague-based butcher’s shops The Real Meat Society and Maso a kobliha. As Martina of Maso a kobliha told me, the offer includes a vegetarian option.
“We are serving three kinds of sandwiches, one is veggie and we have also one with cold roast pork and one with head cheese. All the meat that we have is from organic farms. We are trying to have all the meat from local farmers and smaller farms.”
What is the breed of the pig?
“It’s Přeštík. It’s a really famous breed from small farmers here. The traditional thing about the Přeštík breed is that it’s a really fatty one, so the meat is very soft and really, really tasty.”
With a glass of lovely orange wine in one hand and a recorder in the other I tried to mingle with the crowd and fish for some first impressions.
Alena: “I think the Riesling was a good choice for the start and especially because this wine is from our favourite restaurant which is called Bistrot 104.”
Martin: “We read in the event description that there are organic wines which is a great interest of ours, so we decided to come and have a check. So we are looking forward to tasting them. And also we heard that the food served here should be pretty good and well sourced. So we are looking forward to that as well.”
Are you connoisseurs?
Jenny: “I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, but I think Martin maybe is a little bit more well-versed in wines. But I like wine. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of vegetarian options Maso a kobliha has, because I read that they have some and I am curious, and some organic red wine maybe. That sounds good.”
Natural wines have been all the rage on the Czech foodie scene for some years. While the six-member Družstvo collective of sommeliers are hoping to spread the word even further, most of all they want quality wine to be fun.
“We are trying to spread the trend but I think it will be well successful even without us. What we are trying to do mainly, is I think, to remove these snobbish things about wine. We really don’t want this kind of tasting when twelve people are sitting very calm and somebody is telling them what they should smell and what they should taste. It’s just not who we are. We just want interesting wines without unnecessary things added and a party atmosphere to drink them with. And that’s it.”