Burčák is a fermented young wine that annually marks the start of the grape-harvesting season. And, like many other products dependent on the weather, it arrived a fortnight early this year.
Burčák season is hard to miss – the first young wine is sold in plastic bottles from stalls in the streets and salespeople let passers-by sample their goods in plastic cups since no burčák tastes exactly the same. Basically, it is fermenting grape juice that, at its best, has a fresh and fruity taste but much depends on the quality of the grapes used, whether it is red or white grapes, when they have been picked and the amount of sugar added.
Due to the hot, sunny weather the first bottles of burčák appeared on sale at the start of August this year - a fortnight earlier than usual, and despite the heat, or maybe because of it –demand for it is reported to be approximately 15 percent higher. Sales people are saying they sell 500 liters in four days.
Burčák is available in wine shops, bars and on street corners. There are burčák festivities on many Prague squares where it is sold, with locals and visitors milling round, tasting what’s on offer and commenting on the quality of this year’s young wine.
And hidden in the crowd of burčák fans you’ll find the odd inspector who is not there to enjoy the wine, but to take a sample to make sure that the producers have adhered to the strict regulations governing the making of young wine.
There is a Moravian saying that the fermented young wine has curative powers, but in order to get the full benefit you allegedly need to drink as many liters of burčák as you have blood in your veins. I wouldn’t go as far as that, but if you are here on a visit during burčák season –give it a try.