Did you know that Romanians have a traditional spirit called ţuică? Ţuica is so common that you will be served with one small glass of this spirit wherever you will go in Romania. It may be called ţuica, palincă or horincă, but all the names reffer to the same alcoholic beverage, from different geographical regions of Romania or different concentrations. You will be served with ţuică in people houses or in restaurants as a welcome gesture and it is polite to drink at least a small amount. Don’t let you be dragged in the game of glass refilling, because ţuica is quite strong! Țuică (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈt͡sujkə]; sometimes spelled tuica, tzuika, tsuika, tsuica, or tzuica) is a spirit that contains 28–60% alcohol by volume (usually 40–45%), prepared only from plums. Other spirits that are produced from other fruit or from a cereal grain are called “rachiu” or “rachie”. Ţuica is prepared in autumn, after the wine making, and the tradition says that whole process must be finished before Christmas for good luck in the next year. The making process is simple and complicated at the same time. The plums must be left for fermentation for 6–8 weeks, in large barrels . Then, the distillation is done in a brass still, using a traditional fire source (generally wood). moonshine The temperature is controlled traditionally by interpreting the sounds that the still makes and by tasting the brew at different points in the process. Usually, this process results in two grades of țuică: strong and normal. The strong spirit is obtained by double distillation. It is the first that comes from the still and has a percentage of 55–60% alcohol by volume. This ţuica is served before a meal and for welcoming guests so pay attention! Sometimes the ţuica is left to age in oak barrels for six months to several years and catches a wonderful  gold color. It is said that is the best ţuica and if you hear during the travel the word “ţuică bătrână” (old ţuica), by all means you have to try it. Palinca_de_prune

Consumption

Ţuica it is drank at the beginning of the meal, in small quantities and never misses all traditional parties, weddings, baptisms, family reunions etc. In most of rural Romania, țuică is the usual drink to hold a toast with, rather than wine, which is almost always consumed towards the end of the party. Usually it is drunk before a meal, to increase appetite.