One shining example from Hungarian, centuries-old wine culture is that wine is even to be found within the lines of the national anthem, referring to Tokaj’s nectar. So great is this reflexive sense of its central role that wines such as Tokaji Aszú are always a guest of honour at the table on high days and holidays. This by no means suggests that bottles or glasses only present themselves on special occasions: wine has a special role to play in people’s social lives, in the events they enjoy together, during a chat amongst friends or at festivals and there are more ways than one to enjoy it.
“Fröccs” (spritzer) is the laid-back companion when meeting friends and this refreshing bubbly mix of wine and soda water in one proportion or another is almost the national drink in Hungary. Nowadays, fröccs made from rosé wine has become popular at festivals, concerts and clubs, and there are also many flavoured versions of this drink. That said, traditionally fröccs has always been made with dry, white wine.
Fröccs is served at practically every catering establishment in the country. In some wine bars, you can try specialities such as fröccs made from rosé with a dash of lavender syrup. Or a white wine fröccs with elderflower syrup. Wine bars are not primarily popular due to these drinks though, but because of the impressive range of very high-quality wines they have on offer.
In Budapest, as the interest in such wines has increased, the wine bar culture has really taken off. The clientèle can take a veritable tour of tastes because it’s usually the case that even some lesser-known wines from smaller wine regions are available; so why not try them accompanied by some small snacks.
Just as a cold, refreshing spritzer hits the spot on a summer day, there is nothing more tempting in winter – while strolling amongst the wooden stands of a Christmas market in the falling snow – than a cup of mulled wine, with its inviting, spicy aroma. In Hungary, mulled wine is made not only from red wine, but also from white and even rosé, with cinnamon, cloves and honey, and is really an essential participant in the Christmas season. Quite apart from the Christmas markets, once the cold weather sets in, you will find mulled wine on the drinks menu of almost every bar or café.