Most of Hungarians are very proud of the nation’s alcoholic drink, pálinka. But let’s be honest: Not everyone likes it, either Hungarian or foreigner. Maybe the taste, or the smell, or the destroying aftermath of pálinka is not for you, or maybe all these together. But if you have these 7+1 pálinka-drinking standards in your mind, then you can avoid the ‘get over with this pálinka shot ASAP’ effect.
Almost two years ago, divany.hu posted an article about a pálinka that was ‘finally good indeed’ – according to the author – and they gathered 8 pieces of advice, before drinking pálinka. Let’s see 7 + 1 tips on how to find the best quality pálinka, or how to prevent finding a low-quality of the drink.
#0: “Pálinka with soda is better than whiskey and soda. Pálinka is better into tea, than rum”.
This one is not really a tip, rather a good-to-know fact about the drink.
The quote was said by Welsh prince Edward in the 1930’s in Kecskemét. At this time pálinka was considered luxury. Since then, a lot of people think that pálinka is something not luxurious, a strong alcoholic drink just ‘to get over with as fast as you can’. The reason is, a lot of pálinkas are irritatingly smelly, unbearably hot for the throat and not too tasty at all, yet, at least it has its strong kick-in in the head effect when drinking. Unfortunately, according to the article, pálinka about 80-90 years ago was tastier than today. But if you know more about pálinka, the more chances there are to prevent you from low-quality ones. There are definately great pálinkas out there! 🙂
#1: You should feel the fruit, not acetone!
‘There are three phases of fermentation – pre-distillate, mid-distillate and late-distillate’ – says pálinka distillerry owner Gábor Czakó.
In people’s belief pálinka is always undrinkably strong and has no taste or scent. If it is so, then most probably the gathered fruits were not kept under a temperature between 15-18° Celsius or the cooking machines were not appropriate. When the pre-pálinka mash is kept above 20° or even 30° Celsius the mash starts to get into the pre-distillate phase, which is not ideal for the pálinka at all – tells expert. Another important factor in the ‘Good Pálinka’ making is to be made of pure and ripe fruits, never make it out of already rotten or moldy fruits, that makes it untasty and too strong. So everytime you drink them make sure to ask the provider what method they used and was the pálinka kept on a cool temperature!
#2: Cheaper isn’t always better! (Try to avoid ‘kerítésszaggató’!)
If you have thought that pálinka must be cheap always, you (and we) have known it wrong. A good-quality pálinka is quite expensive because of the much amount of ripe fruit and the professional fermentation process in the distilleries. A half litre great-quality raspberry pálinka’s cost must start at 13 thousand Forints, but other fruits, like peach, plum, pear can go cheaper, around 5-6 thousand Forints must be assumed to great-quality drinks. Never go too low in price, if you want your stomach to thank you later.
Usually, homemade pálinkas are so strong that they are called ‘kerítésszaggató‘, meaning “fence-apart-tearer”. Try to not drink too much of those!
#3: Do not store for too much time.
Pálinka must ‘rest’ for a 3-4 weeks period, after being bottled, you can check on the label when the drink was bottled, so if it shorter than 3 weeks it is not recommended to drink straight after purchasing because of the drink’s alcoholic structure, they say. Storage is recommended in cool spaces, not on sunlight and the bottle put vertically, not laying on the ground, that is how you can prevent it from oxidation and deterioration. Storaging for a too long time (like wines) are not harmless, but it is also pointless because pálinka won’t evolve, or get tastier by time, unlike wine.
#4: Do not drink it ice cold!
Pálinka is best if you drink it on 18°C. If the drink was warmer, then you could feel the alcohol more, if it was cooler, then fruit aromas might not be felt. Do not freeze it, this could ‘shock’ pálinka and not be the same as earlier. The best advice is: Cool it down in your refrigerator, and take it out 30 minutes before you wish to drink it, – again, this is the ideal temperature – when it is around 18°C.
#5: Choose appropriate pálinka glass!
Glass matters, when it comes to tasting them. The classical tulip-shaped pálinka glass is best for tasting and drinking for two reasons: scents and aromas are best felt in these glasses. Vodka glasses are easy to clean up and are easy to drink from, but it does not retain the scent. ‘Once we made a test to taste the same pálinka from 12 different glasses and somehow differences were so big, we thought we drank a different one’ – says Mónika Czakó.
#6: These foods are the most suitable!
You best drink red wine when eating red meat, and white wine, when eating poultry. There is a similar rule to pálinka-drinking as well, and it is easy as one two three. Just serve the same fruit the pálinka is made of. When eating plum cream soup, offer some plum pálinka. To apricot strudel, have a shot of apricot pálinka. To something different, like wild animal meat with mushrooms, pálinka made of sloe is best.
#7: Try special ones! Like kiwi or raspberry!
Usually, Hungarians make plum, pear, apple, peach or apricot pálinkas. Ones like cherry and sour cherry are also available, but rarely. There are, however, tasty, special pálinkas made of cranberry, blueberry, wild fuits, but also kiwi, beetroot and carrot. These last two are not real pálinkas though, they are distillates, yet a very unique experience to taste.
Do not forget to try drinking pálinka with these 7 + 1 standards, and you will have an even better experience with the drink. If you are still interested in other pálinka tips of ours: click on previous links here.