"Wine is medicine for our souls."
"Ours is a different culture."
Tony Pisár, 41 Actor at Bratislava's alternative Gunagu Theatre
I "met" wine after moving with my parents to Bratislava at age of seven. Our house had a vineyard. Every year we picked grapes, pressed them and made wine. That was an adventure. I was allowed to taste the final product, but just a bit, you know.
But the real adventures in the field of alcohol awaited me at university. During those years we threw birthday parties, Wednesdays parties, exam parties, evening parties, you know, you can always find a reason and a suitable room and time to bend your elbow.
So I tried, well, almost everything. Our favourite place was a Bulgarian wine cellar, which unfortunately doesn't exist any more, or [Bratislava restaurant] Prašná Bašta. I always preferred wine over the hard stuff like vodka or gin.
On of the best experiences I remember was being one of 300 guests at somebody's marriage in central Slovakia, where I come from. My dad owned a vineyard, and my father-in-law is from Vinosady ["wine gardens"], a small village where during the autumn, burčiak [unfermented wine] was sold on the streets in barrels for very cheap prices. It was regarded as the cheapest homemade drink in the past, as well as "pálenka" or brandy, a favourite of the hill villages.
After years of drinking the heavy Slovak wines, I was desperate to try some good, smooth wine, which we called "ľahké vína." Then the revolution came, and I could go to Vienna to buy some, or drink French wines in the Netherlands where I used to work. That's when I realised that Slovaks drink in a different way, that ours is a different culture.
Once, I saw a really drunk man, falling down all over the place, so I jumped up and held him upright. A complete stranger, completely drunk. He looked at me and said "my angel, what are you doing here?" I think in many ways, that's what Slovak's are still looking for.
My tip: Firstly, I recommend you try a special Slovak drink, a sweet wine liquer called Medovina. Then, you should try mulled wine in the winter. Boil up some water, add spices and sugar. Boil again and add the wine just for a few minutes, otherwise you will lose the vitamins.
Silvia Jozifovská, 26, Jazz and Blues Singer
"Open the casino, I want some wine," is a well-known Slovak song. Well, some of my songs are about lonely, unhappy people, leaving their loves and drinking whisky or wine. Wine makes us happy and is medicine for our souls.
As far as I can remember, wine was only very occasionally drunk in my parents' house. I started with wine during my university years, although there were days when we drank wine at high school. Wine seemed to me an adult drink, a bit sour. But as you grow up you discover the magic in life, so I drank with my friends at the Kláštorná wine cellar, the best place at the beginning of the 90's in Bratislava.
At that time, there wasn't a great selection of wines, but I tried Slovak wines like Silván or Kláštorné. The wine was kept in big barrels and served in nice ceramic style cups which gave us a very special feeling.
I prefer wine to hard stuff. Having a glass of wine, white wine, sitting with friends is the best. Wine creates new relationships, opens your heart, you taste it and it puts you in touch with your emotions. Wine creates atmosphere, you are more sociable with a glass of wine in your hand. Wine is slow, easy, pleasant and intimate. It is an event and a celebration.
My tip: Find a new shop called By St. Urban on Klobučnícka Street in Bratislava and buy some Tokaj, a strong Slovak wine, or have a glass of wine at the Prašná Bašta restaurant, my favourite.
Silvester Lavrík, 34,
Theatre Director, Art Director of advertising agency
"For me, the best "burčiak" is a beer."
I have had many good experiences with people who drink so much burčiak, wine and "pálenka" [brandy spirit] that they could even teach the old Romans a trick or two.
Look at my beloved old daddy Martin. He spent the whole of his life with horses. He woke up before 5 in the morning and his breakfast was always back bacon, black bread, barley coffee and gin. After all this he "suffered" till late in the afternoon.
This is the way they celebrate marriages in Horehronie, the region I come from - they get a pail of beer, a pail of gin and a pail of rum, and put a ladle in each one. Guests are served in old mustard bottles.
I know a man who became a municipal official in Oravská Lesná. He could manage anything. Through his onerous work duties, he almost drank himself to death. But whenever he stopped drinking, he stopped being useful to his fellow-citizens. He was not able to manage anything.
Well, we Slovaks drink anything and all the time. Everybody likes us for our peaceful character. We just plough on.
My tip: Beer and borovička
14. Sep 1998 at 0:00