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WineWednesday - 29th April, 2009
WineWednesday - 29th April, 2009
A country with 93 thousand square kilometers yet 22 different wine regions. The best way to get to know all of them is Wine Wednesday. On the 29th of April a great day shall come to all the wine lovers interested in Hungarian wine. All Hungarian wines will be sold with 50 per cent discount, or you get a glass of wine free of charge if you order a main dish. There is a whole new universe to explore in restaurants and wine shops. Before you delve into the unknown here is a little guide to what to drink, what to expect, and what to look for - and, of course, how on earth to pronounce it!
Hungary has a great deal of wine history starting from the Romans, all through the Middle Ages with one of the first classifications of Europe. Hungarian wine makers are pretty lucky folks. In such a small country you wouldn’t normally find such diverse climates, soils, and so many local grape varieties. The country has 22 individual wine regions. You don’t have to travel far from the capital until you get to the vineyards. The furthest is just a three hour drive from Budapest, and the closest is just at the border of the city! Wherever you go in the country you’ll see vineyards. The landscape and the local culture changes and so naturally the wines vary a great deal also.
Here is a little guide to equip you with the knowledge of Hungarian wine, once you decided to call for a bottle on WineWednesday! The main regions of the country, are Tokaj (To-kai), Villány (Veal-an), Szekszárd (Sex-r-d), Eger (Eh-ger), Sopron (Shop-ron) the Balaton (Bha-la-tone) and the tiny Somló hill (Shom-low).
The Tokaj region has it all: elegant mineral dry whites with firm acidity and finely detailed depth, as well as the Aszú – a luxurious dessert wine, the beverage of kings and Tsars. Whites around Lake Balaton are grown on volcanic or ferric soils, ripened by the gentle climate. Somló’s wine is always white volcanic and deeply philosophic. The Villány reds are heavy and fruity, with a lot of tannin and richness. Eger and Szekszárd both produce Bikavér (Bull’s blood), the classic blend of many local red varieties. While Eger’s wines are a bit more northern style – elegant and slowly opening - Szekszárd’s wines are more fruity and spicy. The Alföld’s (Al-foeld) enormous wine lake produces the Hungary’s ‘everyday’ wine, with some remarkable examples of freshness and fruitiness.
When looking for good wines, it’s always most fun to find the best in what’s local – the wines you won’t find elsewhere. Hungary has a lot of local, indigenous grape varieties and this is your chance to delight in the unpronounceable best of them.
Fancy a crispy white with fresh citrus fruit and bitter almonds? Ask for an Olaszrizling (Oh-lass-rhee-sling). You like Pinot Grigio, but would like to try a fuller bodied local version? Have a Szürkebarát (Suer-khe-barr-att)! Feeling adventurous? The Furmint (Fuer-meent) is a fiery, mineral wine with a firm acid backbone, leaving an elegant hint of pears on the palate. And if you’re looking for seduction, try a Hárslevelű (har-shle-ve-loo) with its more feminine, round, and honey-aromatic flavors. Like a tannic, full bodied red, with elegant dark fruity characteristics? Kékfrankos (cake-fran-kosh) is your drink! How about a spicy one, with nice red berries, to fit with the equally spicy Hungarian cuisine? Try the Kadarka (kha-dahr-kha).
Of course there is a massive selection of well known, international varieties as well, like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Merlot.
The best way to get to know a country is to drink its wine as it has everything: the touch of the soil, the climate, and of course, the work of the people. So watch, smell, and taste the wines of Hungary. You’ll see it’s worth it, especially at half the price!
Check out venues participating in WineWednesday here!