Hungary is not only famous for goulash, but also for its wines. There is more than 500,000 acres of land being presently used for cultivating grapes and all these grapes are used for making Hungarian wines. There are 22 regions in the country that are primarily into wine making. Many people may not know it, but Hungarians wines have a great bouquet and are appreciated among wine drinking aficionados.
The wine making tradition is more than a thousand years old, and even the communist era in the country could not break this tradition. While several wineries and vineyards were razed to the ground during the communist era, fortunately some ardent lovers of wine kept the tradition of wine making going and that too in secrecy.
With the younger generation in the country demanding quality wines, the wine manufacturers are now trying to cater to this demand. Many of wines in Hungary are similar to the wines found other eastern and central European countries. This is primarily because the climates are similar and the same wine making process is used.
One of the most famous wines of Hungary is Tokay Aszu, which is made in the Tokaj district. This is a sweet white wine that has the right balance between sweetness and acidity. Tokaj is the home to some of the best grape producers of the country, and this district is located along the banks of Lake Balaton. Tokay Aszu is quite similar in take to the Rieslings produced in Germany. If legends are to be believed; Louis XIV called this wine the king of all wines.
Tokay Aszu is an expensive wine because of the long and arduous process employed in making it. The must has to be perfected and then small containers made from cloth are filled with the must, juice of the grapes and pulp of the gapes. The more containers of pulp added, the better the wine turns out to be. The containers of pulp are termed as puttonys, and aszu is generally sold in 2 to 6 puttonys. However, the 6-puttonys Aszu known as Tokay Essence is not sold commercially and is primarily brewed for special occasions, like visit of a state head or marriage in the family.
Another popular Hungarian wine is Egri Bikaver, which translates to Bull’s Blood of Eger. According to legends, when 100,000 Turkish soldiers belonging to Ali Pasha laid a siege on a fortress at Eger, the 2,000 Hungarian soldiers drank this wine and successfully managed to defend the fortress. Claims are made that the success was primarily due to the Egri Bikaver wine, which is known to instill power and strength in anyone who drinks it.
Other great wines from Hungary include Badacsonyi Szurke Barat, which is pinot gris, and Hajos Bajai Kekfrankos Ausbruch, which is fruity red wine.