I was fortunate enough to travel throughout the Hungarian countryside visiting wineries and winemakers, tasting the whites, reds, rosés, and famous dessert wines, learning about the regions, the varietals and the history behind wine in Hungary. As a former winer importer, I had countless consumers, retailers and distributors tell me they didn’t know Hungary made wine and ask me things like, “What is the wine region in Hungary?” I decided that it is time to bring this information to light in America. Stores and restaurants say that they don’t carry Hungarian wines because no one is asking for them. It’s hard to ask for something when you don’t know it exists…
For hundreds of years, Hungary was, with France, the premier wine producing country in Europe. Popes and Kings throughout the continent sought land in Hungary on which to plant their vineyards. Every inch of land in Hungary is suitable for planting vineyards. In spite of the political and economic changes, that winemaking tradition still lives on in the Hungarian culture. To ignore it is to miss out on a hidden gem.
I travel to Hungary at least once a year, and I’ve gone twice this year, tasting dozens of wines every day for two weeks. I visited tiny wineries in Tokaj to a sprawling spa-like winery and conference center in Etyek (just a half hour outside of Budapest–see photo) and lakeside festivals near the long Balaton Lake, which is sometimes called “The Hungarian Sea.” Those discoveries will be revealed in my next post.
I’ll talk to experts in Hungarian wine, suggest food pairings, describe the wine regions and the varietals that I have discovered. Every year I learn something new, and this year, more than a decade after my quest in the Hungarian wine venture began, is no exception.
I hope you’ll join me in this adventure of discovery.