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Serbian Rakia
Serbia’s national drink is rakija šljivovica (rakia shlyivovitsa), a strong distilled alcoholic beverage made from plums. It is traditionally considered to have healing properties, heartily recommended for both external and internal use. Šljivovica is made from different varieties of plum (plum being šljiva in Serbian), but native Požegača variety is the best of all. Rakia is also made from apricot (Kajsija), grape (Loza), pear (Viljamovka), quince (Dunja), apple (Jabuka), honey (Medovača), while Travarica, Komovica and Kleka are made when rakia is mixed with medicinal herbs. Ladies like to sample cherry (Višnjevača) and walnut (Orahovača) rakia.
Moravski konaci
A good rakia is made of fully ripe and healthy, unsprayed fruit. The unripe and damaged fruits are removed, as well as the stones. The healthy fruits are crushed and left to ferment in clean barrels that should be no more than 80% full and protected from dust and fruit flies. Once the fermentation is complete, it is crucial not to delay with distillation. And to invite neighbours and friends to while away the time around the still with food, drinks and song. Occasionally, the fire needs to be stoked and the mash to be churned. The vapours of alcohol and water rise and are collected in a condenser, where they become liquid again. The first and last part that comes out is generally discarded. The art of making rakia is in capturing just the best part of the distillate, called the heart, which contains roughly 30% alcohol.
Distilling of Rakia
This "soft" rakia is then distilled for the second time. Again, only the “heart” is collected. 100 litres of "soft" rakia should yield about 30 litres of strong rakia. Serbs refer to distilling of rakia as “pečenje” or “burning”, hence a double-distilled rakia is called - Prepečenica. Rakia is distilled slowly, over low fire, so it would not burn. A good rakia contains 40-45% alcohol, trickles smoothly down the throat, warms the chest and does not burn in your mouth.


Before use, rakia is stored in glass containers for two months (for the impatient) or in oak barrels for several years (for the hedonists). It is served chilled down to cellar temperature, in a shot glass or čokanj (a special long-necked glass). You can have it before or after a meal (in other words, at any time of day and night), but with moderation, because if you drink it to excess you will be unable to take pleasure in it and savour its delicate aromas. In a restaurant, when you wish to order a rakia, ask for "domaća" (home-made) rakias, as they are superior to industrial products. Waiters will usually suggest a quince or apricot rakia (whose character is slightly weaker which makes them more appealing to foreigners), but if you want to try the

Old Falcon Rakia

queen of all rakias, go for Šljivovica. If you want a bottle of rakia as a souvenir, we recommend "Jelički Dukat", "Gorda", "Žuta Osa" (Yellow Wasp), "Stara Sokolova Rakija" (Old Falcon Rakia - the one aged 12 years) or Rakia made in Kovilj Monastery. Although these brands are expensive, they are better and cheaper than the best spirits made from grains, and can compare with good cognacs in terms of quality. Home-made (moonshine) Šljivovica should only be bought on recommendation because some people use plum varieties that are not suitable for rakia, and seek to “improve” the taste by adding sugar.

A fine place to get acquainted with rakia is Rakia Bar (A: Dobračina 5, Tel: 3286-119, Open: Mon-Sun. 9-24). Here you can choose from among hundred different traditional and special rakias from all over Serbia.
Čokanj of Rakia
You can buy good-quality rakias at Rakia&Co, Terazije 42, Tel: 2643-158. Open Mon-Sat 9- 21. Rakia Festival is held in Belgrade in December:


Serbian Wine
Serbia has a long tradition of wine making. Wine production in these areas dates back to the Roman times and Emperor Probus (born in what is now the north of Serbia) who planted the slopes of Fruška Gora Mountain with vineyards in late 3rd century. In medieval times, the Serbian royal house of Nemanjić promoted wine growing and outlawed the practice of adding water to wine. They were also very particular when it came to wine serving - there are records of a complaint addressed to the Hungarian court because the wine they served there during a banquet was warm, while in Serbia, it had to be chilled first.
Vrbica Winery
In the 14th century, Emperor Dušan the Great made a 25 km long “wine pipeline” which transported wine from his vineyards to his court in Prizren. He also made the first laws which introduced the notion of the protected geographical indication and wine quality. Wine making in these areas flourished until arrival of the Ottoman conquerors, when many vineyard were destroyed. Wine production continued to some extent only in some parts of the present-day Serbia, mostly in monasteries, particularly those in Fruška Gora. In the 19th century, following successful Serbian revolution for independence, production of wine was renewed in central Serbia on a large scale. Serbian wines were exported to Viennese court and even found their way to France, especially as many French vineyards were destroyed in the outbreak of phylloxera in the 19th century. In the aftermath of the Second World War, under the communist regime, many privately held wineries were destroyed and wine was produced in large industrial plants where quantity took priority over quality. Large quantities of wine were exported to Germany. In mid-nineties of the 20th century, wine production in private wineries slowly began to pick up again. Today there is a large and varied offer of Serbian wines, some of which are of excellent quality, and can rival wines from the better-known European wine regions. They are certainly worth trying, if for no other reason, than because they are the best accompaniment to the food from there areas.
Vrbica Winery
The geographic latitude of Serbian wine regions roughly corresponds to that of Bordeaux and Rhone Valley in France and Tuscany in Italy. Some of the best vineyards in Serbia are located in these regions: Oplenac (we recommend a visit to these excellent wineries - Vrbica, Aleksandrović and Kraljevska Vinarija (Royal Winery), Palić (Zvonko Bogdan and Dibonis), Fruška Gora (Kovačević, Kiš,


Milijan Jelić Winery
Živanović and Do Kraja Sveta (Until the End of the World)), Župa (Ivanović, Braća Rajković, Spasić, Minić, Radenković, Budimir and Stemina), Smederevo (Janko and Radovanović). We also recommend a visit to Jelić winery near Valjevo.
Other regions known for wine production include Vršac, Negotin and Knjaževac. Nowadays it is difficult to visit the region which traditionally produced the best red wines in Serbia, because it lies in Kosovo and Metohija, where wine production was almost stifled after the war of 1999. However, the Dečani Monastery and Antić winery make interesting wines with strong character, in spite of the adverse circumstances. The white wines we would like to recommend include Tamjanika (Spasić Winery), Morava (Jelić Winery) and Triumph (Aleksandrović Winery). Our preferred rosé wines include Varijanta (Aleksandrović Winery), Mina (Stemina Winery) or Tarpoš (Vrbica Winery). Served chilled, they go particularly well with Serbian “cooked” dishes. As for red wines, we recommend the wine produced by Dečani Monastery (in Metohija), Prokupac (autochthonous grape variety) made by Ivanović Winery or Braća Rajković Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique (Radovanović Winery) or Zvonko Bogdan. If you get a chance, try the wine from Sava’s Field vineyard, a limited series produced, aged and bottled in the Serbian Monastery of Hilandar in Greece (Mount Athos). The authentic liqueur wine is the famous Bermet (Živanović or Kiš Winery).

Aleksandrović Winery


You can buy Serbian wines in these Belgrade shops:

Riznica Vina (Wine Treasure), Ruzveltova 48, Tel: 3089-266. Open 10-20, Sunday closed. Great selection of wines, spirits, very good prices.
Compania de Vinos, Kalenićeva 3 (near Kalenić Market), Tel: 2436-050. Open 9-21, Sun. 9-14:30. Good selection of wines, occasionally hosts promotional wine tasting events.
Serbian House of
Wine, Braničevska 1

(near St Sava Temple), Tel: 3836-965. Open 9-21, Sunday closed.
Oplenac Grape harvest

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