Burčák, [pronounced Bur-chahk], is a sweet tasting, bubbly, new wine found only a few weeks in early Fall which means there’s cheerful celebrating as the warm summer days fade into the cooling temperatures of Autumn. Burčák is a Central European phenomenon where vintners take a batch of the young wine just after the grapes have been crushed, add sugar, and let it ferment. The result is something that’s no longer grape juice, yet, not exactly wine. This addictively sweet tasting juice is mainly available in the Czech Republic and Austria where it’s called ‘sturm’. It’s claimed to be the best in southern Moravia, the wine region of the Czech Republic and particularly in the town of Znojmo.
Some say it’s the most dangerous beverage in Prague; more dangerous than absinth or the inescapable presence of beer. While it only contains about five percent alcohol, it is said to continue to ferment while inside your body—meaning that the alcohol level of the beverage you’ve been consuming for the past couple of hours, has grown to that of a normal, matured wine (about thirteen percent) while still in your body! It’s definitely alive because unlike carbonated beverages, which lose their gas over time, Burčák must be burped periodically to keep it from exploding.
Dangerous or not, this year’s Burčák delivered all that Burčák can promise. I raise my glass of Burčák to the hope of life to come in Spring as I brace myself for the slow slide into the slumber of Autumn. “To the King!”