It’s hot, and when it is hot here in Hungary, we drink fröccs. It translates to spritzer, a mixture of wine and cool sparkling water which was invented in the cellar of Adam Fáy precisely 174 years ago and given its name by famous poet Mihály Vörösmarty, who happened to be there at the occasion. By the late 19th century the drink become widely popular, a staple that people of all walks of life drink in copious amounts with the same enthusiasm to this day throughout Central-Europe. Therefore, fröccs is a cultural thing that’s not to be taken lightly. If you ever visit the country during summer months and want to be de rigueur at all, read on!
We took to fröccs with the fervor of religious crusaders and after a long process of experimentation and sophisticated alchemy, today about 20 variations of the drink exist based on different proportions of wine versus water. Some puritans would scoff at the idea of diluting wine, but until a more refreshing drink is found, I will stick to my fröccs thank you. In short, it’s the best prescription to beat the heat. For all its variations and new-wave popularity, fröccs is here to stay so let’s get to know each other!
First, the wine. The belief that mediocre to awful wines can be made acceptable if some fizzy water is added is an inheritance of the Socialist era and should be forgotten for good. Although sweet, full-bodied, or barrel-aged wines are usually not recommended, quality is of great importance. Fruity, aromatic, and unoaked white wines and roses work best.
Next, the water. Chilled sparkling mineral water will do, but if you mean business and take your fröccs-drinking seriously, szikvíz or szóda (pron. soʊ’dʌ) as in common speech is the only acceptable way to go. Soda water is filtered, carbonated water in a special pressurized dispenser, known as the seltzer bottle. To describe the best temperature for both wine and water, we use the expression “cellar-cold” (8-15°C). Ice-cold water will ruin the experience.
Onto mixing proportions. Consult the infographic below so you won’t be lost. The wine bottle and soda water bottle signs stand for 100 ml, so for example a small spritzer is made from 100 ml wine and 100 ml soda water. Sacrilege alert! If you ever encounter bottled spritzer (which I never have, but I hear such horror exists), please resist the urge! I mean, how hard can it be to mix two ingredients? Besides, the essence of fröccs-drinking is that it’s made on the spot, and everyone has a personal preference.
But how do I take the liberty to impart wisdom on such an important topic? Practice what you preach, they say. Both my parents’ families had vineyards located on the sub-Mediterranean slopes of Balaton Highlands, so we’re used to drinking our own crisp Reisling fröccs. Nowadays it’s either my uncle’s mildly fruity white cuvée from the same, mineraly terroir or a delectable rosé from the country’s southern Szekszárd or Villány wine region. Grandparents from my mother’s side also manufactured soda water in the 60’s using the crystal-clear spring water from the well at their property and transported it to local taverns on a horse-pulled carriage. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that my family’s fröccs-culture is quite advanced. 🙂
Do you feel like incorporating this simple beverage into your hot weather drinking?
Vintage seltzer bottles image from Etsy