Ok, so we aren’t really sure what to classify rachiu as, so we’ll just call it homemade booze. Other volunteers say it’s whiskey, but it isn’t made with a grain. We figured it was cognac because it is distilled using wine, but our host family said it wasn’t cognac. Whatever kind of alcohol it is, we’ve heard that the strength varies depending on who makes it and how.

When making new wine this year, Leon decided to set aside some of the old red wine to make rachiu. The barrel occupied the driveway for about a month, and then one day we came home from work and saw a friend of Leon’s setting up this distillery in the front garden. It took him 3 days to make 45 liters of 80 proof rachiu.

From our understanding, which might not be much considering the language barrier, the wine and old grape skins are dumped into the big steel barrel. The fire below causes the alcohol to evaporate and condense on the tubes at the top. The alcohol runs down the tubes through a trough of cool water and drips down the threads into the bucket. Leon stores it in bottles with crushed walnut shells on the bottom, turning it a light brown color over time. Noroc!