Drinks and Wine in Hungary
Find out about some of the popular drinks in Hungary, as well as details about Hungarian wines...
Hungarians are keen coffee drinkers, and both coffee bars and coffee houses are very popular. Small strong espressos are the norm, though a long coffee, or hosszú kávé, an espresso with added water, and tejeskávé, a local version of café au lait, are also available. Tea is becoming more popular with Hungarians.
Hungary's climate and soil are perfect for wine growing, and the country is proud of its wine drinking heritage. Vines have been cultivated in the country since at least Roman times. Despite this, few of the country's wines, apart from Egri Bikavér and Tokaji aszú, are known by the rest of the world. The communist regime encouraged huge wine factories to produce vast quantities of wine at the expense of quality, doing a lot of damage to the reputation of the country's wine. This is now changing as wine producers wish to revive and preserve fine Hungarian wines; young drinkers in particular are looking for quality vintages. There are now hundreds of private Hungarian wineries and wine makers; the country's 22 wine growing regions now cultivate more than 140 varieties of grapes. The country is particularly well known for both its sweet and fiery white wines.
The main wine producing regions and their wines are outlined below:
- The region around Eger, Hungary's second largest city, in the north of the country, is home to elegant red wines such as Medoc Noir and Egri Bikavér
- Villány, which is known as Hungary's "Mediterranean" due to its sub-Mediterranean climate, produces many of the country's biggest and best reds; the area's signature grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Portugieser. The region is home to both tiny family-run wineries and large modern operations. It is renowned for its Cabernet Franc
- The countryside around Lake Balaton is home to five different wine growing regions, all of which produce slightly different wines. The region produces great Rieslings and Muscatels, such as Badacsony Riesling, Kéknyelû and Szürkebarát. Although the area is mainly known for its white wines it also produces some great red and sparkling wines
- Tokaj has a centuries-old tradition of making sweet wines, for which the region is still well known. This is the home area of the very sweet Tokaji Aszú. However Tokaj is gaining a reputation for its dry wines, of which it now produces more
- Winemaking in Sopren has been heavily influenced by that of Austria and Germany. Kékfrankos/blaufrankish is the region's signature wine, though fine Cabernet Francs, Zöldveltelini and Zweigelt are also produced
As well as wine, a pure fruit brandy known as Pálinka is both traditional and popular in Hungary. It is made in small batches from quality fruits by artisan distilleries around the country. It is also referred to as 'schnapps' and has a high alcohol content. Better brands have a distinctive fruit or honey flavour. Unikum is Hungary's national liqueur, though many foreigners consider it an acquired taste. Hungarian beers include Dreher, Kobányai, Soproni, Aranyászok, Bak and Borsodi.