The Revenge of Burčák

BurcakThere’s that certain something in the air. Whether you’re a summer or autumn person, it’s hard to deny that autumn in the Czech Republic carries a wonderful feel with it. The sky is either rainy and moist or crisp and blue, the leaves are starting to change and, to the male population’s chagrin, the women have started wearing more clothing.

Still, whether you are mourning the end of summer or celebrating the beginning of autumn, there is burčák to help you along.

Burčák is a partially fermented wine. So wine makers take a batch of young wine just after the grapes have been crushed, add sugar, and let it ferment a bit. The result is something that tastes like a mixture of fruit juice, Sprite, and purple…if purple had a taste. And since it’s young wine it’s alcohol content is only about 5%.

It’s also available in yellow.

September in the Czech Republic sees a lot of burčák festivals. They feature stands with arts and crafts, cakes, and jewelry. There are stands with a thousand varieties of cheese (Eidam) so close to cured meats that a vegan would lose their minds…well, the part of their minds still not addled from the neurological disorder which led them to become vegan in the first place. There are bands, games, and loads of people out welcoming autumn with booze.

I love this country.

But why the ‘revenge’ of burčák, you ask? Yes, that’s because it keeps fermenting in your stomach. So as you pound glass after glass of purple, I mean, burčák, it continues to ferment in your tummy, eventually peeking at about 13%, or the alcohol content of a normal, mature wine.


A burčák buzz sneaks up on you like a purple criminal and slowly pounds euphoria into the back of your head. It slowly removes your inhibitions, gently suggesting that things like dancing, singing, and fire-eating are reasonable activities. It devolves your oral competency (see below: Fuck Man), leaving you a grinning smacked ass with purple stained lips.

And this explains why I remember the beginning of burčák festivals, but I don’t remember the end of burčák festivals. From the last festival, I remember a lot of potatoes, a wheel of cheese, and a mustached fat man cutting ham off a bone and slapping it in front of me on a plastic plate. Then, in a show of chubby man solidarity (and following The Chubby Brethren Decree of 1991 which states that when in power of fatty foods, one fat man must show prejudice in favor of another fat man) he heaved another hunk of ham on my plate as we saluted each other, all to the angry gawks of the skinny fools around us.

Then there was eating ham and pounding burčák in a grassy field, and then being joined by a smiley, purple-mouthed teenager whose ability to speak English had been reduced to conjugating the word fuck.

What’s your name?

Fucking fuckingly fuck!

Where are you from?

Fuckers…fucking fucks.

Do you have a lighter?

Fucking. Fuckly. Fuckers.

Nemáte zapalovač? Do you have a lighter?

Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Good (we look on hopefully)….Fucking.

After Fuck Man (de facto title), I think that festival ended in a casino for a few rounds of roulette. Though I can’t recall the actual moments during which I played 9, 26, and 0 to excess, I woke up with an empty wallet and an angry gastrointestinal system. More revenge of burčák.

If you see me at a festival this autumn, look closely. If I have purple stained lips, a spaced out look, and a plate full of meat, just assume that I am celebrating the beginning of autumn, mourning the end of the season of the bikini, and awaiting revenge.

And talk to me later.

  1. #1 by Andy on September 5, 2013 - 7:15 pm

    God, is it already that time of year again?? I was always a “yellow” burcak kind of guy, myself. Though the amount of sugar in either of them produced the same splitting headache. Personally, I prefer my wine normal or mulled; I miss me some svarak.

    As a side note: my captcha phrase is “nutcry politiques,” which may be my favorite one yet.

  2. #2 by Allison on September 6, 2013 - 5:45 am

    I miss burcak. I even live in a so-called wine region now (western NY), but they don’t do it here. Na zdravi Damien, have my share for me 🙂

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