Being in the Balkans without trying Rakia is as unimaginable as being in the Prosecco region without enjoying their famous sparkling wine. Also, being invited to somebody’s house and refusing a welcoming toast with Rakia, would be understood as impolite. It is highly recommended to avoid this kind of cultural misunderstanding. In short – even if you don’t feel like drinking, just try it. Who knows, maybe you are about to discover your new favourite drink. In that case, this ultimate connoisseur’s guide for Rakia is a must for you.
When in the Balkans, it is good to know that Rakia is a way of life for the locals. It accompanies them along their lives through nice and less nice moments. For them, it is a God’s given drink. Locals believe that it revitalises the body, heals the soul and boosts the spirit. Likewise, any issue will be easily settled once when Rakia is offered, because Rakia is Connecting People. Even cross-border disputes become meaningless, in the shadow of the drink that unites the Balkans.
The first rule of thumb for tasting Rakia is – drink only homemade because it by far better than industrial ones. The second rule of thumb is to remember one crucial word (for most of the Balkan countries) – “Domaća”, a word that you will use anytime when you want to order a real homemade Rakia. Since you are a foreigner, waiters might offer you a honey or a quince Rakia, considered to be softer. However, if you want to have the crème de la crème, order Slivovitz, the most famous plum Rakia, also known as Serbian national brand.
Good Rakia has quite strong taste, followed by delicious hints of fruity flavours. Basically, there should be a nice balance between the two. You should also be able to guess the main fruit used in the production. When tasting it, the high-quality Rakia should seep smoothly down the throat, burning in your chest, not in the mouth. In order to saviour delicate aromas of Rakia, the best is to take it before or after your meal.
Ideally, Rakia is served chilled and in a shot glasses. However, don’t be fooled and don’t shot Rakia just because the glass looks like that. This strong brandy is supposed to be sipped, gently distinguishing the flavours of fruits and oakiness from the barrel. Also, shooting few Rakia would put you in a trouble, as you might lose your sense of clear thinking. Likewise, when at somebody’s place, don’t empty your glass if you want to avoid getting it top-up again.
Last but not least, Rakia is to be consumed in moderation. Only that way you can enjoy it fully and become a Rakia aficionado. After reviewing this ultimate connoisseur’s guide, why not planning your next Balkan trip, since you are absolutely ready for Rakia hobnobbing?
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