Ţuică (sometimes spelled tuica, tzuika,
tsuika, tsuica, or tzuica), is a traditional Romanian
alcoholic beverage, usually made from plums. "Ţuică" is officially,
after the Romanian standards for drinks, the name for the drink prepared
only from plums. Other drinks prepared from fruits, cereals, etc. are
called "rachiu" or "rachie".
Left: Bottle of
Ţuică from România.
Traditionally, ţuică is prepared from early October until
early December (after winemaking is complete). The process must generally be
finished before Christmas, as not to leave unfinished business for the next
year. If using plums, they must be left for fermentation for 6–8 weeks, in large
barrels (butoaie or căldări).
According to both tradition and Romanian standards (SR) distillation must be
done in a brass still, using a traditional fire source (generally wood, but also
charcoal). Distillation can be done inside a specially built barn (this is
practised especially in Oltenia and Wallachia) or outdoors, usually on a hill
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 three grades of ţuică:
strong - distilled twice, generally a quarter of the production,
and the first to come out of the still - about 55-60% alcohol by
volume. It's called făţată
or întoarsă depending on the
regions. It's the most famous ţuică being served before meal. In the
rural regions it's a habit to serve someone with this kind of drink,
when he comes to your house.
(known as 'vodcă' after Russian vodka), the last to come from the
still, between 20-30% alcohol.
After distillation, ţuică may be left to age between
six months and ten years in oak aging barrels (the result is pearlescent
yellow, has a strong aroma, and is known as "old ţuică", ţuică
bătrână), or it may be consumed immediately ("new ţuică", ţuică
proaspătă). Mixed with water, ţuică should never turn white or
A famous type is "ţuica cu fruct". This is
basically a glass bottle of old ţuică containing a whole fruit (usually
an apple or a pear). This is obtained by hanging empty bottles on trees
in spring or early summer, and growing the fruit inside the bottle.
Left: Bottles with whole fruit inside.
Normally, ţuica is only consumed before the meal
(traditionally every meal), usually alongside some telemea cheese and
tomatoes and onions. In most cases, only a shot is served as it's too
strong to be sipped. The drink is also present in all traditional
parties such as weddings, baptisms, hunting parties, harvest festivals,
religious holidays, family reunions, and wakes. In most of rural
Romania, ţuică 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 meal, as it increases appetite.
fruit inside a bottle