Grape harvesting is done and dusted, and it’s time to toast Slovenia’s new wine vintage with numerous food and wine events.
Wine harvest 2019 is over. Slovenian winemakers are done celebrating the fruits of their labour in the vineyards. Last October was full of wine harvest parties. But now it’s time to celebrate yet again in the name of wine. It’s time for St Martin’s Day celebrations, and we’re experiencing lots of happy cheer all around Slovenia this week. Come join the fun!
Let’s Toast! From Must to Wine
You may already know that St Martin’s Day is all about celebrating the transformation of grape must into young wine. This international feast falls on November 11. But in Slovenia, where it’s known as Martinovanje, celebrations run over quite a few days surrounding the 11th. This happy occasion calls for extra-special dedication.
How Do We Celebrate St Martin’s Day in Slovenia?
All Slovenian wine regions, plus many towns and villages all over Slovenia, take part in the cheerful St Martin’s Day affair.
The fulcrum of events is Slovenia’s second largest city: Maribor. As it houses a grapevine that is more than 450 years old, it hosts the largest ever St Martin’s Day feast. This one-day outdoor celebration marks the end of the annual Old Vine Festival and sees more than 20,000 visitors from Slovenia and abroad each year. This Maribor holiday always takes place on November 11 regardless of whether or not it’s the weekend. However, other St Martin’s Day celebrations such as the Ljubljana Wine Route, which I’ll get back to in a moment, run at the weekend that’s closest to the 11th.
There are other main towns like Ptuj and Ormož in the east of Slovenia that are also getting more popular, even around this time of year. Ptuj, which has the oldest wine cellar in Slovenia, organises a number of guided wine tastings and tours around the town’s most curious wine spots. Ormož lies withing the beautiful Jeruzalem wine region. It’s normally quiet in this village, but it becomes very much alive during this festive period.
“I can assure you that you’ll never go wrong by going to the famous Vipava Valley, Goriška Brda, and Karst wine regions that all have food and wine programmes tailoured to this festive week.”Denise Rejec – Wine Dine Slovenia
Atmospheric St Martin’s: Vipava, Brda, and the Karst
One experience that will always stay in my memory is the really atmospheric party held within the historic walls of Šmartno in Goriška Brda. This was back in 2013 when I hadn’t yet set up my blog. I’ve yet to return and make a feature about it. But you could get a taste of what Šmartno can offer by checking out my BRDA & VINO festival feature.
A More Intimate St Martin’s
If you’re looking to spend St Martin’s in a more intimate way, I suggest you visit a few wineries and wine cellars in Slovenia’s wine country. They host wine tastings featuring young wines. Or you could attend a tasting in some of Ljubljana’s cosy wine bars. Restaurants around Slovenia also prepare themed menus comprising the traditional St Martin’s meal.
And if you’re lucky, you might be able to experience an even more intimate feast in a Slovenian home. There, you’ll definitely get to eat a typical Slovene St Martin’s Meal.
What’s a Typical Slovene St Martin’s Day Meal?
A typical St Martin’s Day meal in Slovenia must comprise a succulent roast goose or duck. With this comes the most perfect accompaniment of shredded flatbread (‘mlinci’) and red cabbage cooked in red wine or vinegar. How do the Slovenes succeed in getting that pheasant meat to melt in the mouth?
It’s slow-cooked for a couple of hours. And the secret is to take it out of the oven every half hour or so to pour over some of the juice that escapes from the meat. Simply scoop it up from the bottom of the dish and splash it over the bird.
And how does it get so tasty? It’s normally stuffed with apples or dried apricots, raisins. Breadcrumbs do the smart job of holding these ingredients together. Plus herbs and spices (marjoram, cinnamon, and nutmeg) for the seasoning.
St Martin’s Lunch at Bistro Švicarija
For a truly Slovene St Martin’s meal experience, head down to Bistro Švicarija in Tivoli on Saturday, November 9, at lunchtime. They’re cooking up a very special seasonal lunch including the famous dish roast duck. Unfortunately, their St Marin’t dinner happening that evening is already fully booked.
Cook Like Ana Roš
If you’re feeling inspired to serve up your own St Martin’s Day lunch or dinner, how about taking a few tips from the world’s best female chef: Ana Roš. She’s a genius at turning traditional ingredients into remarkable culinary surprises. And it’s not as hard as you might imagine, so don’t be discouraged. Follow her recipe for a heart-warming St Martin’s Day dish that will impress your beloved guests.
Sweet Dessert: Potica
You can’t have a festive moment in Slovenia without the traditional potica. You’ll see this at any Slovene festivity, including Easter and Christmas. On seeing it, you might mistake it for the British spiral roly-poly pudding. But the taste and texture are completely out of this world. It’s a mix of soft and nutty. If you’re having the one filled with walnuts, that is.
Otherwise, you could run into some equally enticing potica versions with poppyseed, cottage cheese, hazelnut, chocolate, tarragon, or lovage, among others. Okay, I’ll admit, none of these beat the walnut-filled one (‘orehova potica’). And with rum-soaked raisins thrown in… the juiciness is exquisitely sublime.
Where Can You Taste Young Slovenian Wines?
To taste some of Slovenia’s best young wines during the eventful St Martin’s Day celebrations, I recommend attending the Young Wines Salon ‘Pubec’ in Ljubljana this Thursday (November 7).
You should also head out to the Ljubljana Wine Route – St Martin’s Day taking place in the city’s old town this Saturday (November 9). Here you can taste more than 450 wine from as many as 90 Slovenian winemakers. Just grab a wine glass and some coupons and hit the stands. Just remember to drink responsibly 🙂
The Ljubljana Wine Route – St Martin’s Day forms part of the grand November Gourmet Ljubljana food and wine festival happening throughout this month.
See below for a complete list of places all around Slovenia where you can celebrate St Martin’s.
Happy St Martin’s feast to you all,
From Wine Dine Slovenia!
Complete list of where you can celebrate St Martin’s feast in Slovenia
Jeruzalem Ormož: November 8-11
Ptuj: November 8-11
Štanjel, Karst: November 8-10
Brda: November 9-10
Izola: November 10
Ljubljana Wine Route: November 9
Posavje: November 9-11
Vinarium, Lendava: November 9
Maribor: November 11
Bela Krajina: November 15-16