I had only time to visit one; it was a decision between ‘The House of Hungarian Wines’ and ‘The Royal Wine House & Wine Cellar Museum’ (Kiralyi Borhaz es Pince Muzeum). I think it was the Royal in the name that made that decision rather quick for me as well as having the chance to explore ancient medieval wine cellars underground of the Buda Castle.
I left it till the end of the day as I knew if I visited half way through the day then I wouldn’t end up seeing half of what I wanted to see while in Budapest. The House & Museum are tucked away in a corner of the Castle Courtyard. You shouldn’t miss it near the viewing platform looking over Buda as the roof of this underground treasure chest is covered in rock pebbles that look rather like a series of kitty litter boxes. You will be able to see the entrance and all the wine motifs, just follow these and you’ll find your way in.
The staff are very welcoming when you arrive and will explain all about the museum and what sort of tasting packages they offer. If you opt for a tasting package you can forgo the museum entrance fee. We opted for the tasting package of 3 Hungarian wines however you can try up to 8 if your brave enough.
Once you have purchased your ticket you will then be shown to the beginning of the museum where you can wander through freely at your own pace. The museum slowly descends further and further underground with rock walls on all sides of you. It really is quite an experience for not only wine lovers but also history buffs and anyone who likes to be underground. However don’t get me wrong, you won’t be caving – it is very modern and the exhibition is very well put together. There is a lot of information ranging from medieval crafts to an in-depth look at all the Hungarian wine regions to covering the ins and outs of the Jewish Kosher wine alongside the Hungarian knightly order of wine. Of course there are old wine pumps and wine equipment to see along the way as well. My favourite parts had to be the 3 or 4 rooms which you could climb down into and were the actual royal wine cellars as well as some old wells too. All up, if you are an avid reader I think it would take a good couple of hours to get through the full museum. The only downside is to exit the museum you have to backtrack your way back to the start.
However saying that, there is a good reason to go back to the start as that is where the tasting room is. Depending what types of wine your into, they are very flexible about what you can try. You can go for all reds, whites or even sparkling. I opted for a mix, a dry white, dry red and a sweet white.
The tasting is conducted very well. You will have your own sommelier who will explain the wines and guide you through the tasting. The only downfall is that our sommelier was very technical which was fine by me but I would presume a lot of people may find this a turn off. Either or our sommelier did ask us at the start if we wanted him to speak about the wines. So I guess you could decline if you wanted.
So the most important part, what did I try? Here are a few notes:
1. Tokajicum, Darazsko Furmint, 13.5%, Tokaj, 2010
Medium-bodied white with high acidity and a distinct smokiness – very much like grapefruit done on the BBQ.
2. Toth Ferenc, Kadarka, 12.5% Eger, 2009
Beautiful nose of raspberries and strawberries however on the palate there was an abundance of sour cherry, black pepper and a touch of tannins.
3. Tokajicum, Sargamuskotaly, 11.5%, Tokaj, 2009
Vibrant grapey flavour with white flowers and a fruity confectionary finish. Like our sommelier said – it is a wine to woo woman, every Hungarian man has at least 2 bottles in his fridge at all times.
We paid 1,900 HUF (about 6 Euro) each for the full experience which I think was a great deal – especially since a tasting size is actually half a glass. Beware if you pick the 8 wine tasting package though!