Taste Hungary: A Glimpse Into Bohemian Wine Culture

Photo Credit: Alexandra Booze, East Coast Contessa
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Wether you’re a expert sommolier or a blossoming wine connoisseur, the Taste Hungary’s “Essentials of Hungarian Wines” tasting class is, well, an essential experience if you find yourself in Budapest.

Located on the “Pest” side of the Danube in Budapest’s Palace District neighborhood, the two-hour immersive tasting class takes place at the open-air, communal seating wine cellar of Tasting Table. Equipped with an impressive selection of local Hungarian wines, cheeses, dips, breads and meats, it’s the perfect spot to strike up a conversation about one the country’s most cherished industries: winemaking.

Here’s some fast facts about Hungarian wine making:

  • Hungary has 22 wine regions in total (!)
  • Hungary has 100 different variations of grapes.
  • The Hungarian word for wine is “bor”.
  • Winemaking in Hungary dates back to the 5th Century AD.
  • Even in spite of its flat landscape, Hungary’s complex and volcanic soil system creates the ideal location for grape production.
  • 70 percent of Hungarian wines are dry wines.
  • Grape picking requires delicate hands, so many women work at wineries and farms.
  • Hungary loves wine so much, that they even sing about it in their national anthem (my kind of people)

In intimate groups of 6-8 people, Taste Hungary’s Certified Wine Ambassadors embark wine tasters on a centuries old journey through Hungary’s rich wine history. Before the first drop is poured, guests have their pick between baskets of sliced artisan breads to dip in either pumpkin seed, walnut, or poppy seed oil.

Each evening at 6pm, Taste of Hungary selects eight wines from six of Hungary’s 22 regions for guests to sip throughout the class:

Sparkling:
1. Gold Brut, Traditional Method from the Kunság Region;
Whites:
2. Irsai Olivér from the Mór Region;
3. Egri Csillag from the Eger Region;
4. Estate Furmint from the Tokaj Region;
Reds:
5. Néro Rosé from the the Kunság Region;

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6. Magma Kékfrankos from the Balatonfred-Csopak Region;
7. Cabernet Franc from the Villány Region; and
Dessert Wines:
8. Aszú 5 Puttonyos from the Tokaj Region.

The wines, which range from sparkling Brut to sweet dessert and everything in between, are paired with a “hidegtál” (cold board) with select cheeses and meats from known and trusted local producers.

Cheese selection includes a variety of cow’s and juh sajt (sheep cheeses), while savory cured meats like the hairy pig and “kolbász” (dry sausages) provide a hearty and savory touch.

Photo Credit: Alexandra Booze, East Coast Contessa

And, for those wondering, the eight glasses mentioned above totals an entire bottle of wine (so you won’t leave thirsty). 

Of the food and wine sampled during the tasting, personal favorites are below:

  • Gold Brut, Traditional Method (lightly sweet and best served before a first course, 
  • Tokaj Aszú 5 Puttonyos (Hungary’s oldest and most famous dessert wine. It’s aged a minimum of 18 months in barrel and 18 months in the bottle for a divine flavor! Best paired with blue cheese crumbles and honey.)
  • Pumpkin oil dip (best served with slices of raisin walnut bread)
  • Smoky “juh sajt”  (sheep cheese) with jam
Hungarian cold plate
Photo Credit: Alexandra Booze, East Coast Contessa

Since most Hungarian wines are only made is small batches to preserve quality, a majority of them are only found within the country itself. However, should you wish to take home a bottle or two (or more), Taste of Hungary safely ships within Europe and exports to the United States. 

The wines tasted on the tour range from $8 to $40 USD (2,400 to 12,000 Hungarian forints), so indulging is affordable. Plus, Taste of Hungary guests receive 10 percent off their entire purchase!

To book the “Essential Hungarian Wine” class or any other experiences offered through Taste Hungary, visit their website here.

You can also find them on Trip Advisor. Make sure to tell them you heard about their tours on East Coast Contessa first!

Egészségére! (Cheers!)

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