Vienna admired it, the emperors worshiped it, and it was even drunk on Titanic
It was served across courts in medieval Europe, its aromas delighted the aristocracy of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, including the Habsburg empress Maria Theresia, and it was served on Titanic, along with fine delicacies
Did the dessert wine Bermet (German vermouth) so confuse and daze the captain of Titanic that he oversaw the big iceberg that was fatal for the passengers of the ship that night in April 1912? Even though in a joke, that question was asked after the bottle of Bermet with the label from Sremski Karlovci – where this aromatic wine has been produced for centuries – was found on Titanic. The bottle was taken from the ship wreck 73 years after the ship had sunk.
How did Bermet get there? More plausible story is that a clever and venturesome Syrmian tried to shipa few bottles to America, than the one that a sommelier from Titanic included it in its wine list. However, this aromatic wine (or brandy, as some would say) delighted numerous (aristocrat) palates through history, just as it delights numerous followers today, even those who are not fond of wine or brandy.
It saved them from the army
When something is good and interesting, then many spears are broken around it. The same is with Bermet. Everybody claims it, and the Wikipedia states that the most praised Bermet comes from the area of continental Croatia, from Samobor vineyard to be precise. But, in Sremski Karlovci they would not agree with that, because they claim their Bermet is the most praised for its authenticity. Namely, the story goes that the empress Maria Theresia ordered Bermet from Sremski Karlovci. She was so delighted with this aromatic wine with as many as 27 different herbs that she released the citizen of Sremski Karlovci of performing army duty. Do you know why??? So that they would have time to produce Bermet! Historical research on this area reveals data from the end of the 18th century. According to it, Viennese hoteliers tried to attract winegrowers from Sremski Karlovci with different incentives to open their restaurant in Vienna, where they would only serve Bermet.
Even though every family has its own secret recipe to produce this wine, it is well-known that Bermet is produced from grapes and different herbs, among which the most characteristic is wormwood, which give wine the bitterness, whereas the flowers of other herbs give Bermet its scent and sweet taste. Anise, sage, coriander, allspice, lemon peel are most frequently used… but some recipes even contain dry figs, carob, raisins, even roughly sliced horseradish and nutmeg.
Bermet is served as an aperitif – its main goal is to open your appetite, of course. On average it contains from 16 to 18 percent alcohol, and it is best served at the temperature of 18 to 20 grade Celsius. It excellently accompanies desserts, and in Sremski Karlovci it is traditionally served with “vanilice”, cakes filled with jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
What Traminac is among the wines, Traminka is among the brandies. It is an excellent aperitif which is hard to resist
Due to its aroma and fullness of taste Traminac, a sort traditionally grown in Ilok area, is considered to be the best wine of Syrmian vineyard. It was even served at the coronation of queen Elisabeth II, just as prince Charles and Camilla brought it home as a souvenir after their visit to Croatia in 2016. Besides wine, high-quality brandy is also produced from Traminac, but if you try to find information on the Internet where to buy Traminka, you will have to “dig” deep, as there is not much information on this fruit brandy.
But, if you stop in Ilok, the host will first direct you to family agriculture farm Barbarić, where they produce different types of fruit brandies according to old recipes, among which there is Traminka, with help of new technologies. Yet, Traminka has a special place as it, along with brandy Viljamovka (pear brandy) received golden medal at the international fair in Novi Sad. At family agriculture farm Barbarić they will tell you that fruit brandies, just as Ilok brandy/cognac, were produced in old caldrons where it was impossible to get the same quality. Contemporary distillation machines today preserve characteristic flavour and fruit scent, which guarantees the quality of a product.
Cure for all pains!
Brandy returns colour to our cheeks, say our ancestors, you live longer with it, you have better time with it, just as much as you take it like an ace to cure stomach-ache or flu. There is no better medicine than brandy! And when it is made of Traminac sort, with high percentage of sweetness and optimal acid content, this strong drink with good spirit, as people refer to it, can intrigue all palates.
In the heart of summer, at the presentation of Syrmia and Slavoni in Šibenik, in hotel King Kresimir they created a potable, refreshing and unusual cocktail from Traminka and elderberry juice, which is perfect for warm part of the year. It is highly recommended to those who are not so keen on brandy.
If you go a few kilometres eastern from Ilok, into Voivodina region, the search for Traminka will inevitably take you to family Slavnić. At foothill of Fruška gora, in Vrdnik, there is the cradle of family production of licenced brandies. Vladislav Slavnić inherited the knowledge and skills for brandy production from his grandfather and father. There they produce pear, apple or apricot brandies, but also one special, created with special technological procedure from Traminac grapes and neoplant (white wine i.e. the mix of Smederevka and Traminac).