Bukara is a traditional Dalmatian wine jug, made exclusively from spruce wood.
It has a specific, pleasant smell and is known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Old legends say that even poor wine will have a good flavour in the bukara, because of the spruce. Bukara has become a symbol for the local wines and some of the good, old and simpler times still live on in the collective consciousness thanks to the poets who used the bukara as a poetic motif just as often as they referred to wine or pretty girls.
The secret is in the medicinal spruce
Traditionally, the bukara has a volume of at least half a litre, and can often contain a litre or more, so that it often served as a common vessel for wine that was passed around from person to person. Due to its antibacterial properties, there was no fear of infection. Only later were smaller bukara of several decilitres made, for “personal” use.
The bukara is made only of spruce wood, and the traditional process of handmaking these vessels was a long and complex one. The wood was first cut and left to dry, which could sometimes take longer than a year, and only then would be suitable for further processing. Spruce has an intensive aroma, and so the bukara also serves as an ornament: the entire house is filed with the fragrance, and it can last forever. However, caution: if you decide to use the spruce wood once, you mustn’t stop, as the wood absorbs the liquid and expands. When it is not used for a long time, the wood dries out and cracks, and needs to be reassembled.
Bukara or susak?
In the areas inland of Šibenik, you will also often hear that such a wooden vessel for wine is also called a – susak. Are these synonyms or is there a difference? And if so, what is it? The susak and bukara are virtually synonyms, however, they do differ slightly in their appearance: the bukara has a wider top and narrows towards the base, while the susak is the opposite, it is narrow at the top and widens towards the base. Furthermore, some say that the susak is hugged (held by wrapping the hand around the glass), while the bukara is held by the handle.