19 May 2022 / Sue Tolson Copy actual URL Facebook share Twitter share

Fröccs for beginners

The warm weather is finally here, with the sun shining more than the rain falling, and the terraces open and filling up with thirsty drinkers. So, it’s time to learn something about an unofficial Hungarikum, i.e. something inherently Hungarian, that you should definitely know about, and try, if you are in Hungary in the summer. You can drink it on a terrace, in a ‘ruin pub’, at the lakeside, at a winery, at a festival or just in the garden, wherever you’d like something more refreshing than a simple glass of wine. You’ll soon be converted!

The Hungarian wine spritzer

So, what is fröccs? Well, fröccs is the Hungarian expression for wine spritzer. However, not only is it refreshing, it is also difficult to pronounce, as you can tell from the spelling! But an approximation is to make it rhyme with the English word ‘perch’, so something along the lines of ‘frerch’. The Hungarians claim it as their own, as legend has it that Ányos Jedlik, the inventor of the soda syphon, created the drink when he squirted some fizzy water into his wine, calling it spricc, at a gathering of friends, including poet Mihály Vörösmarty, who even wrote a poem about it. However, it is also widely drunk throughout other countries in Central Europe. In Germany, it’s Weinschorle and in Austria Spritzer, which is doubtless where the English name ‘Wine Spritzer’ originates. So basically, it’s wine diluted with soda water. Easy! Not so fast: not in Hungary, I’m afraid, as Hungarians have a myriad of terms to describe the full range of fröccs you can ask for. If you’d like to get your drink in the right proportions, you’ll need to learn a few more names.



The basics of fröccs

Let’s start with the basics, that is the easiest and the most common versions. You can have either a kisfröccs or a nagyfröccs, i.e. a small spritzer or a large spritzer. Let’s translate that into proportions – kisfröccs is 1 dl, or deci, wine to 1 dl soda water. Another quick translation - 1 dl is 100 ml to you and me – the Hungarians measure liquids in decilitres. And the kisfröccs is 2 dl wine to 1 dl soda. Earlier in the day or if it’s particularly hot, you might want to reverse the proportions, so you can order a hosszúlépés, which is 1 dl wine to 2 dl soda.



And in bigger volumes

If it’s particularly hot or your friends are drinking pints of beer and you don’t want to sit and wait with an empty glass for them to finish their drink, then you should order a viceházmester (vice caretaker), weighing in at 2 dl wine to 3 dl soda. If that is a little too dilute for you, then try the slightly stronger házmester (caretaker) – just reverse the volumes of water and wine. And staying with the half-litre options, if you need to rehydrate, then your tipple of choice is the sportfröccs – 1 dl wine and 4 dl soda. Or if you aspire to prove your drinking prowess, you could knock back a quick háziúr (landlord) – 4 dl wine to 1 dl soda.

Naturally, to complicate matters, some of these have several names, but I won’t bore you with them here. Unless you speak Hungarian, they’ll be difficult to say, or you won’t understand what they mean anyway!


Onto the surreal and the sublime

But for fun, let’s have a look at some of the others. Upping the volume to a litre or so, you have a few choices. This may seem extreme, but at a festival, for example, these options are quite important. Once clear advantage being that you don’t have to stand in line as often to get a refill.

Some options:

A magyar-angol (Hungarian-English) or puskás fröccs (after the soccer player Öcsi Puskás) is 6 dl wine to 3 dl water. You’ll need to know something about historic football matches to understand this one, but a Hungarian foci fan will doubtless be very pleased to explain this to you, although an English football fan may not want to hear this explanation.

Távolugrás (long jump) – 1 dl wine to 9 dl soda
Polgármester (mayor) – 6 dl wine to 4 dl soda
Alpolgármester (deputy mayor) – 4 dl wine to 6 dl soda
Avasi fröccs – 7 dl wine to 3 dl soda
Krúdy fröccs (after the writer Gyula Krúdy)  – 9 dl wine to 1 dl soda
Maflás (“biff”) – 5 dl wine to 5 dl soda

There are a few more variations with even larger volumes. But we’ll leave those for now. Strangely, there are no 2-8 or 8-2 variations, but I guess you just double up the sportfröccs or the háziúr. I’ll leave you to decide on a name for those.



Further variations of colour and flavour

The other consideration is what colour your fröccs should be – fehér (white), rozé or vörös (red). Of course, white is perhaps the most popular, typically with Olaszrizling, but you can also enjoy aromatic varieties like Irsai Olivér or Cserszegi Fűszeres in a spritzer. Pink or rosé fröccs is also a popular summer tipple, and it’s not just for the girls, you’ll also see guys clutching a rozé viceházmester as a more refreshing alternative to beer. Red wine drinkers could try it out with Kékfrankos, for example. You can also perk up your fröccs with a drop of cordial – elderflower for whites or lavender for rosé. It also adds a touch of sweetness, but don’t go overboard, or it will no longer be so refreshing.

So hopefully you can now head out with confidence and order yourself that most Hungarian of drinks, the fröccs, as well as make it for yourself at home. Serve well chilled!

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