Sunday, September 18, 2011

Burčák: God Bless Underaged Grapes

It's September and you know what that means: it's burčák season.

Of course it is. It's only the best autumn tradition in Europe, if not the world, and burčák is specific only to the Czech Republic. No idea what it is?

Neither did I, until yesterday. Across a crowded room on Friday night, I had heard a voice say "" and it was enough to peak my curiosity, especially when I woke up only to see that it was yet another gorgeous day. I realize it is uncommon for the sun to be a daily player at this point in the year, but I think I brought the San Francisco Indian Summer here with me.

And so what did this sunny autumn day bring? It brought first harvest wine, or "burr-chack", to the beautiful parks around Prague. It's an easy day to manage. Find a beautiful park. Find the huge crowds of people. Stand in line for five minutes. Pay $1 for glass of baby wine. Drink. Smile.

Burčák is neither wine, nor spirit, not juice, or bubbly water, but if you could turn on your imagination palate for a minute, it is a combination of all of them. The grapes are pressed before beginning any meaningful fermentation and so you're left with a fabulous, thick-ish, Lambrusco-esque, sweet but fragrant and always unique, drink. Sometimes, red, sometimes white, but this isn't really the truth. It's yellows and pinks and personalities you've never seen out of a keg. Is the picture becoming clearer?

The best is how most people purchase it. Because it is young, it doesn't keep well. So buy it now, buy it in large quantities, and promise that you will drink it in the next two days. (This is not difficult. Half an hour is more reasonable.) So you pull up to a vendor booth, or any average wine shop on the street that advertises it, and you get the wine out of keg, poured into 1.5 liter soda bottles. Classy, practical, delicious, and once again, only here.

Yours truly, living the high life. 
It made for a particularly colorful day. On top of the happy drinking, there were extravagant outdoor performances and drums and harps (with nymphs and soldiers and fair maidens and an elephant. In the park.) There were scores of food booths with the most amazing non-Asian foods.

Have I mentioned how much I miss Taiwanese food? But Saturday made up for it. Czech food is quickly growing on me. Potato pancakes, grilled onions and ham, topped with saurkraut...all made on the back of a hot 10 gallon drum.

And of course, good company and general merriment of everyone around us. That's why I came here. I thought it might be beautiful, and full of good alcohol, and what the heck, it delivers every day.

Happy Vinobrani!

Have I mentioned, I move into my flat on Tuesday!

No comments:

Post a Comment