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Țuică (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈt͡sujkə]; sometimes spelled tuica, tzuika, tsuika, tsuica, or tzuica) is a traditional Romanian spirit that contains ~ 24–65% alcohol by volume (usually 40–55%), prepared only from plums. Other spirits that are produced from other fruit or from a cereal grain are called "rachiu" or "rachie". Țuică is also the foundational element for creating the traditional romanian cognac from different spirited fruits coffee flavored. In 2013, Romania produced 1.3 million hectolitres (34 million US gallons) of țuică.
Traditionally, țuică is prepared from early October until early December (after winemaking is complete). The plums must be left for fermentation (macerare) for 6–8 weeks, in large barrels (butoaie or căldări or putini).
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 two grades of țuică:
- normal: distilled once, the last to come from the still; between 24–40% alcohol.
- very strong: distilled twice, generally a quarter of the production, and the first to come out of the still; about 50–65% alcohol by volume, stronger than palinka; called pălincă de prune, fățată, întoarsă, or horincă depending on the region; the most famous țuică served before a meal; in rural regions, it is customary to serve this drink to a guest.
After distillation, țuică may be left to age between six months and ten years in mulberry aging barrels (the result is pearlescent yellow, has a strong aroma, and is known as "old țuică", țuică bătrână), or it may be consumed immediately ("fresh țuică", țuică proaspătă). The people preparing țuică are sometimes referred to as țuicari, căzănari, or cazangii, but this varies according to geographical region. Mixed with water, țuică should never turn white or opaque.
Țuică is prepared using traditional methods both for private consumption and for sale. Although this was illegal in the past, the government tolerated the practice due to the traditional character of the beverage. Some communities have acquired production licences and produce it legally. Home distillation in Romania is legal provided the distiller pays an excise tax and produces no more than 50 litres per year (13 US gal/a) per household.
The generic term "țuică" comprises plum brandies (horincă, cocârț, tura). A specific nomenclature was created for țuică, comprising varieties such as old, selected, superior, etc.
A commercial famous presentation is "țuică cu fruct". This is a glass bottle of țuică containing a whole plum fruit. It is obtained by hanging empty bottles on trees in spring or early summer and growing the fruit inside the bottle.
Normally, țuica is only consumed before the meal (traditionally every meal). In most cases, only a shot-sized amount is served, and it is generally sipped. The drink is also present in all traditional parties (agape) such as weddings, baptisms, hunting parties, harvest festivals, religious holidays, family reunions, and wakes. In most of rural Romania, țuică is the usual drink to hold a toast with, rather than wine. Usually it is drunk before a meal, as it increases appetite.
A modern portrayal of a modern village inhabitant almost always includes a bottle of țuică. For rural families producing țuică for their own consumption (not commercial) the output can amount between ~ 10 - 200 litres per family per year, as the plum tree is the most widely present tree in Romanian orchards (see also Agriculture in Romania). Țuică is sometimes used as part of a small remuneration package for small work or "daily work" (non contract based or between friends).
Romania is the largest plum producer in the European Union and among the top plum producers in the world. According to the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture, around 65,000 hectares (250 sq mi) are cultivated with plum trees, and 80% of production is transformed into țuică.
- "ORDIN nr. 368 din 13 iunie 2008 pentru aprobarea Normelor privind definirea, descrierea, prezentarea şi etichetarea băuturilor româneşti (Official Romanian legislation for defining, describing and labelling of Romanian traditional spirits)" (PDF). Legislatia României.
- Ciobanu, Rodica (24 August 2013). "Băutorii de whisky versus băutorii de țuică" [Whisky drinkers versus spirit drinkers] (in Romanian).
- Study on Council Directive 92/83/EEC on the structures of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages (PDF). Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (Report). European Commission. June 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2021 – via europa.eu.
- Tuica de prune, medicament de exceptie
- România e cel mai mare producător de prune din UE. Cele mai multe fructe folosesc la ţuică și palincă
- Cultura prunului: particularități și ghid de întreținere
|Look up ţuică in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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-  — ORDIN nr. 368 din 13 iunie 2008 pentru aprobarea Normelor privind definirea, descrierea, prezentarea şi etichetarea băuturilor româneşti (Official Romanian legislation for defining, describing and labelling of Romanian traditional spirits.