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Beers and Wines from Central Europe

Coffee houses, gorgeous white wines and fabulous fruit brandies are some of the potable cultural gems you can enjoy when you wine and dine in Central Europe.

 

Riesling; remember that name when you think of wine and Germany. It’s most important vineyard areas are along the Rhine, Moselle and Main rivers and around Lake Constance. The main grape variety grown here is Riesling, a popular grape around the world and the main variety grown in the country. In fact, 60% of world's riesling grapes are grown in Germany. After Riesling, the other important white varieties are silvaner, rivaner, pinot gris and pinot blanc. That’s not the only thing poured in Germany: try luscious Black Forest plum or cherry schnapps or tangy apple cider in Hessen, and pay homage to the beautiful fruit grown here. Mustn’t forget the grain, though; brewing beer is considered a very fine art in Germany and there are excellent beers to suit all tastes. Just imagine yourself in a traditional Bavarian beer garden, enjoying the fresh air, a hearty snack and a nice, cold litre of beer – or whooping it up at Oktoberfest!

Austria is the capital of coffee houses, or Kaffeehäuser . Some establishments in Vienna in particular are worth a visit not only for the luscious hot drinks and pastries but because they’re relics from a bygone era Artists, politicians, bohemians and army officers used to convene at these cafes to read, philosophize, play chess and engage in intellectual duels while sipping carefully brewed cups of coffee. Here’s a tip when you’re choosing your prey: the more newspapers, games and regulars, the better the Kaffeehaus. Try the many special coffee concoctions, each house proud of its caffeinated signature drink. Austria’s vibrant wine scene has earned a worldwide reputation for quality and innovation and is the destination for those seeking energy, culture, and charm. The incredible thing about Austria is that all of its wine regions are easy to visit. In fact, once you step off the plane in Vienna, you have already arrived in one of the world’s most unique wine regions.

Hungary has a raft of special drinks to try. Pálinka is ubiquitous throughout Hungary; it’s a fiery fruit brandy often distilled out in the country from home-grown plums, apricots and pears. Unicum is a special blend of herbs and spices that Hungarians swear by as an aid to digestion, among other things. It is indisputably Hungary's answer to Marmite – you’ll either love it or you hate it. More mainstream are the zillions of coffee houses in Budapest; writers, painters, philosophers and poets have gathered for centuries around coffee-house tables in lively conversations, sampling desserts, drinking strong espressos. Now tourists are part of the mix, so join in! Today Hungary has 22 designated wine regions, and they all have something of interest to anyone who appreciates fine scenery and wants to discover Hungary first hand. Tokaj - the toast of pontiffs and tyrants alike - is one of the world's finest dessert wines, and that’s just the beginning of Hungary’s long list of excellent wine.

Wine has been popular in Slovakia since the days when it graces kings' tables. The best way to find out why is to start tasting on your own. In total there exist six viticultural regions in Slovakia and almost four fifths of its vineyards are located in the region of the western Slovakia. Probably the most widely known and loved wine of Slovakia is made from the Tokay grape, grown on the southern slopes of the Zemplínske vrchy mountain range. For a zippier drink, the charm of tea has captivated Bratislava. Enjoy an oasis right in the heart of a busy city, with a special calmness and aromas from other worlds.
Every tearoom has its own special charm, characterised by pleasant relaxing music and for the most part, sitting on the ground.

Poland is a land of passionate tea drinkers, where tea is consumed with and in between each meal. Wine and beer are often imported in Poland, although Zywiec, Tyskie and Okocim are good local beers. Home grown, of course, is vodka, the country’s signature alcoholic brew and as much a national drink here as in Russia. Vodka is not a cocktail or mixed drink ingredient; it is served and swallowed neat. Vodka comes from sweet to dry, as well as in various colors. One brand, Zubrowka Bison, is flavored with grass on which the bison feed in the Bialowieza forest so there’s always a blade of grass in the bottle. Other popular spirits include Sliwowica, made from plums, and Krupnik honey liqueur, made from mead.Na zdrowie (to your health) is a useful word to learn.

You’re in the Czech Republic, you’ve already seen all of the Prague’s major sights (miraculously), but something is still missing from the full experience.. aha! You need to visit one of the traditional cafés, be embraced by its unique atmosphere and stoked up with a perfect cup of coffee. Cafes are often famous places closely connected with outstanding figures of Czech history. Ask about “the Arab” and how coffeehouses became so popular in Prague. As far as other drinks are concerned, the Czechs are the number one beer drinkers in the world, which may explain why there are more than 450 brands, Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser being only two of them. Czech, and above all Moravian wines are definitely worth tasting. They come from the most beautiful corners of the Czech Republic and travelling in search of their production is a guarantee of a contentedly spent holiday.

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