A foreign visitor once noted with surprise that wine at the court of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus (1440-90) was taken without water, which was not the case in 15th-century Europe. Conversely, today’s visitors to Hungary are amazed at the popularity of wine mixed with soda water.
Anyone who tries it will find that this “spritzer” is ideal for quenching thirst, and also goes well with the country’s spicy specialties. Soda water (carbonated drinking water) is available in every household and inn. Many families make their own, using a special bottle with a pressurized top, through which carbon is injected from small cartridges into the water.
In some regions, soda water is still brought by the soda man, who moves from street to street, attracting attention with his call of szódás-szódás. Plastic bottles, which are considerably lighter, are gradually replacing the old bottles that are made of heavy glass. Traditional, richly decorated soda bottles are popular decorative items.
Wines from the Lower Plains
Vines grown on the sandy soil of the Lower Plaints produce predominantly table and country wines, including several good quality ones. The character of the wine is marked less by the location and processing methods, and more by the variety, from which they also get their names. Sweet and semidry white wines with low acidity and light red wines dominate. The dry table wines from this region are ideal for “spritzers.”
The main types of wine from the Lower Plains are:
- Cabernet: excellent red wine from the Hajós region
- Ezerjó: green-white in color; fine acidity
- Kadarka: ruby red, aromatic wine with a spicy scent; the best red wine for “spritzers”
- Kövidinka: light white table wine
- Olaszrizling: green-yellow, sometimes golden in color, scent similar to mignonette; pleasantly bitter aroma; fine acidity
Hungarian spritzer wine – Ratios
This drink is named after the writer Gyula Krúdy (1878-1933), who invented it. Following his example, some people ask for just a few splashes of soda water in 10 fl oz (300 ml) wine.
There are different names for mixed drinks, depending on the ratio of wine and soda water. The imagination knows no bounds!
- fröccs or nagyfröccs — “spritzer” : 2 parts wine to 1 part soda water
- kisfröccs — “little spritzer” Equal quantities wine and soda water
- hosszúlépés — “big step” : 1 part wine to 2 parts soda water
Some other mixes are no longer available everywhere:
- házmester — “janitor”: 3 parts wine to 2 parts soda water
(Now also the name for rum-based mixes)
- viceházmester — “deputy janitor” 2 parts wine to 3 parts soda water
- háziúr — “house owner” 4 parts wine to 1 part soda water
- lakófröccs – “lodger’s spritzer” 1 part wine to 4 parts soda water
- Krúdy-fröccs — “Krudy spritzer” 9 parts wine to 1 part soda water