Summer tends to be very warm in Hungary and the hot weather calls for light and refreshing drinks. You could have a coke or a beer, but Hungarians are more creative than that. Let me introduce you to two Hungarian grape-based favorites, the non-alcoholic Traubisoda and fröccs, the Hungarian wine spritzer, which is not only refreshing, it will also give you a buzz.
Traubisoda is a sweet Hungarian soft drink. It's grape juice with a fizz, made of a special Hungarian white grape, called Saszla, which is widely grown around Lake Balaton. The unique recipe for Traubisoda was originally conceived in the 1950's by Lenz Moser and was later sold to Traubi Hungaria in 1971. It soon became the most popular pre-Coca-Cola era drink in Hungary. Although its popularity decreased in the 1980's when Coca-Cola and all its brands arrived to Hungary, it never completely disappeared from the market.
Today, the original Traubisoda has regained most of its popularity and is once again widely available. Part of the success can be attributed to its new owner who bought Traubi Hungaria in 1992 and revived the brand. The other reason behind Traubisoda's success is that it is considered a retro drink, associated with a nostalgic feeling. It's a 'national' drink, evoking memories of an era gone by. The best reason however for its past and present success is that it really tastes good and it's refreshing. Traubi's key ingredients are two natural resources unique to Hungary: Saszla grapes, which are naturally very sweet and water, rich in minerals, especially magnesium, hence its marketing slogan 'A gift of nature' (A természet ajándéka). Traubisoda is produced by Traubi Hungaria, a factory in Balatonvilágos and is widely available in restaurants and supermarkets.
Another popular drink is fröccs, which is wine mixed with soda water, also known as a wine spritzer. Both Hungarians and Austrians lay claim to the origin of the fröccs, but since soda water, one of it's key ingredients, was invented by a Hungarian we will side with the Hungarian story. It’s a drink well liked by Hungarians, mainly because wine is so popular. Based on the proportion of wine to soda water each fröccs is different and Hungarians have fondly given them funny names:
- Nagyfröccs - large spritzer, also called Hajtás or 'rush' is 2 dl wine and 1 dl soda water
- Kisfröccs - small spritzer, also called Rövidlépés or 'small step' is 1 dl wine and 1 dl soda water
- Hosszúlépés - 'long step' is 1 dl wine and 2 dl soda water
- Házmester - 'janitor' is 3 dl wine and 2 dl soda water
- Viceházmester - 'assisitant janitor' is 4 dl wine and 1 dl soda water
- Kisházmester - 'little janitor' is 1 dl wine and 4 dl soda water
- Sóher fröccs - 'stingy' is 1 dl wine and 9 dl soda water
Mafla - which is 5 dl wine and 5 dl soda water
(1 dl is approximately 3,4 ounces)
If you know any other variations of fröccs please write a comment or send me a note and I will update the article.
Although sparkling water is often used to make fröccs the original fröccs is made with traditional soda water. Both red and white table wines are good for making wine spritzers, so there is no need to break the bank on vintage wines. A chilled fröccs makes for a cool lunchtime drink as well as a nice accompaniment to a hot summer's dinner.