As you probably heard, Romanians have a special place in their hearts for traditional meals. But just as much they enjoy the local Romanian drinks. Almost every Romanian household has at least one bottle of homemade alcoholic beverage be it wine, brandy or a fruity liquor.
You see, in Romania, the whole process of creating said drink is an art, a socializing event and, for many, something you simply do in the Autumn. In Rural Romania, locals will rarely be seen buying wine or other types of alcohol enriched beverages from a store. Instead, they will welcome you into their home priding on their full barrels of just squeezed grape juice or years old wine from their vines.
This being said, here are some traditional-local-made beverages you should try while traveling Romania:
Romanian drinks – wines
Wine making in Romania is a tradition. And rightly so, with Romania being one of the largest wine producers in the world (sixth in Europe). The many wine regions spread all over the country ensure diversity and make for a great opportunity to mix travel with wine tasting.
While you will certainly find Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Gris and other well-known varieties of wine both white, red and rose, there are also some local types. For red wines, the most popular is Feteasca Neagra from Moldova Region, while for white wine is Feteasca Alba and Feteasca Regala.
For a less sophisticated experience and a more prosaic one, Romanians have what they call “motorina” (translation: diesel). It’s a deep red, coarse wine, highly alcoholic that will leave your lips, teeth, and tongue a bright shade of purple. While it’s an acquired taste to actually enjoy this liquid, it makes a wonderful base for mulled wine during the Holidays. And mulled wine is the basis of any Romanian Christmas Market.
Romanian drinks – țuică, rachiu, horincă
There is a saying that Romanians know how to make alcohol out of anything. Plums, apples, pears, other fruits and grains, they all are put through a fermentation process which, depending on the region, results in a white/ yellowish clear liquid. This is an appetizer and usually is served before a meal in a small shot like glass. But don’t be fooled, the Romanian Brandy it’s high in alcohol and will leave a burning sensation.
While it will be hard for a traveler to spot the differences between all the types of Romanian alcoholic spirits, I’ll try to break it down for you.
Țuică (pronounced tzuikh) is Romania’s national home-brewed drink. Tuică is made from fermenting plums for six to eight weeks and then distilled in brass kettles with copper tubing. It is a tradition that lasts for centuries, going back to medieval times. So, it’s safe to say that Dracula, or more accurately, Vlad Tepes used to enjoy a small glass of this delightful poison before his meals.
Although not high class enough to find it in restaurants, Țuicăis best consumed at home to toast before a meal, or at a home wedding, christening, wake or other major events. For winter time Romanians make mulled tuica which is boiled with pepper and other condiments.
Double distilled Țuică (higher in alcohol content) is called Palinca. You will find Palinca mostly in Transylvania region and in the northern part of Romania. Speaking of this region, in Maramures this very strong țuică is called Horinca. In traditional villages you can visit a Horincie, meaning a small construction used by the whole village to prepare their beverage.
Rachiu is a type of țuică that is made from a different fruit than plums (usually pears).
Romanian drinks – liquors
Also in the hand brewed category, liquors in Romania usually mean mixing some țuică with fruits and sugar and letting them soak for a period of time. Depending on the type of fruit, the final result will be called Vișinată (sour cherry, most popular), Afinată (blueberries, most common in mountain regions), Caisată (peach), Cireșată (cherries) etc.
It’s usually milder in alcohol content and considered “something for the ladies”.
Romanian drinks – the non-alcoholic type
While lemonade is far from being traditional, it is highly accessible. But for a local flavor, one could try Socata. Socata is made from Elderberry flowers, sugar, lemon and water that is let to sit to infuse. The resulted soft drink is similar to lemonade but sparkling and with a strong floral fragrance.
Another popular drink is Braga. It’s made from different types of bran be it corn, millet etc that is fermented with water, yeast, and sugar. It results in a muddy soft drink with a sweet and sour taste.
Must is also very popular during autumn. It’s the freshly squeezed grape juice that is just starting to ferment into wine. It’s very low on alcohol if any and incredibly tasty. You can find it in locals homes or at country fairs. But be warned that if you buy a bottle to not agitate it and open it in an open space. Otherwise, it might explode and force you to redecorate the room.
Let us tell you more
Romania is a magical place and no one knows it better than its locals. That is why our small team of certified tourist guides is always happy to share stories about Romania. Furthermore, our aim is to make sure you have the vacation of your dreams. Just see what other travelers are saying about us.
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