Author: Imagine Budapest

Wine bar guide

Wine bar guide

Wherever you go in the world, culinary experiences are just as important as historical and architectural attractions. Has anyone ever been to Italy and not mentioned the coffee as well as the stunning churches, fountains, steps and atmosphere?

It’s no different when you are in your own country. And in Budapest, lovers of gourmet cuisine, exceptional food and special wines will find what they are seeking and have the experience of a lifetime.

Drinking wine is, of course, not just alcohol consumption, but also art, which features in sayings and proverbs, folk songs and classic literary works and engages everyone. When should you drink it, what style, how, from what kind of glass and paired with what? As an amateur, it’s easy to get confused by the options and lost in all the details. Fortunately, not everyone needs to take a sommelier course right away to get the most out of a wine bar experience: simply visiting a wine bar is enough!


1. Where are the wine bars?


Fortunately, all the wine bars are not concentrated in a specific part of Budapest. You can find great places near the historic buildings of the city centre, in the hustle and bustle of Király Street or even walking along the Grand Boulevard as well as in both the inner and outer districts on the Buda side. You can decide whether you want to enjoy some wine in a patinated building or with a view of the Danube, in a place evoking the atmosphere of a wine cellar or with a trendy modern interior, or even somewhere bohemian accompanied by jazz music.

Although all wine bars have their relationship with wine and the consumption culture in common, they are all different. The scene is especially diverse in Budapest too. You can enjoy both Hungarian wines and wines from well-known international wine regions, although the style of food and location may also help you decide where to spend the evening.


2. Why go to a wine bar? In short?


Because you will have an unforgettable People generally don’t have the chance to taste wines from all around the world and Hungary in the place they were made (if this is not the case for you, then this article is not aimed at you, but read on anyway to see if you can learn something new). Wine bars bridge geographical distances. However, they don’t only give you the chance, but also help you to decide which wine region you should discover in your next glass after Sopron for instance. Wine travel at its best, without a suitcase or train ticket!


3. What makes a wine bar a wine bar?


A wine bar differs from a traditional restaurant in that EVERYTHING here revolves around wine. The wines are usually carefully selected based on a clearly defined concept and the menu designed around this; however, most of the time, wine is the guiding element, even in the design of the interior. This is how the special feeling particular to every wine bar is born.

Wine bars focus on enabling guests to learn more about the wines they offer, so tastings are a regular feature of their programme of events. In this culture, the contents of the bottle are determined not only by the quality of the soil and the number of hours of sunshine, but also by the people behind the wine. Generally, great attention is paid to showcasing smaller wineries and lesser-known grape varieties and wine-producing regions.

Sommelier Ilcsi Mácsai is happy to introduce Hungarian wines to her guests


4. All well and good, but what will I experience in a wine bar?


You can be absolutely sure that you will have a great experience. If you find the right place and are open, you can enjoy discovering things and gaining knowledge. Quality is generally hidden in the details. If you have only drunk wine spritzers at festivals and wine mixed with cola as a teenager, you’ll make a giant leap forward while in safe and experienced hands. And if you can tell the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Burgundian Pinot Noir glasses with your eyes closed, you’ll definitely not be disappointed with the service here.

The size of the glass’s bowl, the thickness of the rim and the right amount of aeration – wine bars really pay attention to all this. And you don’t do this every day, do you? So, you’re guaranteed a really special experience!

Sommelier champion László Angerman helps to make wine tasting a real experience


5. What were wine bars like in the nineties?


The final decade of the last millennium brought dazzling jackets, rainbow-coloured ties with matching seat covers, rustling track suits and – nothing can be startling after the above list – wine bars to Hungary. Of course, it’s difficult to be specific about when this new phenomenon arose, but wine bars certainly became increasingly sophisticated and successful in the 1990s, especially in the US. Even here in Hungary, we didn’t have to wait long to join in this new trend. The first wine bar in Budapest, Vörös és Fehér (Red and White) opened on Andrássy Avenue in 2000, and the owners did not just undertake to copy foreign fashions. Their explicit goal was to replace the “just as much as possible” approach of the pre-transition era with “be as good as possible”. The Hungarian public seemed to be even less receptive to the wine bar genre at that time: Vörös és Fehér was twice transformed into a restaurant and then closed its doors. However, we didn’t have to wait long for the new consumer culture to succeed. In the next few years, more and more similar places opened that managed to successfully maintain their wine bar profile.


6. And when did it all start?


So, have a guess but don’t peek at the answer. When do you think the first wine bar opened? You don’t need to give an exact year, but what century do you think it was in? Any idea?

And if we say 1435, how far out were you? As surprising as it may be, it’s commonly believed that this is when a place called Al Brindisi opened in Ferrara. Copernicus and Tiziano also frequented it. But it’s also quite exciting to discover what is the oldest wine bar still in operation today! Gordon’s in London and Réserve de Quasimodo in Paris both date back to the 19th century. Even if this emphasis on prehistory is somewhat anachronistic in a fundamentally modern genre, such continuity is a merit that really cannot be underestimated. The fact that these bars have managed to remain public favourites for so long really requires a special approach and the constantly evolving expertise passed down through generations.


7. What can you find to accompany your wine in Budapest wine bars?


The local wine bars showcase the specialties of all Hungarian regions, but also offer you the flavours of Austria, Italy, Spain and even New Zealand. To accompany them, you can choose from traditional cheese and meat dishes or taste olives, while even the sweet-toothed can find the perfect place, where the wine tasting is accompanied by macarons and bonbons.

As well as wines, many wine bars also have other special drinks – mostly related, of course, which are made from grapes. Excellent sparkling wines, exciting wine cocktails and, of course, either wine-based or non-alcoholic refreshments. Whether it’s chatting with friends, a romantic date or even a relaxing sightseeing tour – there is a great range of cosy wine bars awaiting you in Budapest!


+1. Where should I go?


Wine bars in Budapest:

●  0,75 Bisztro – 5th district, Szent István tér 6

●  Borkonyha – 5th district, Sas utca 3

●  Carpe Diem Borbár – 5th district, Zoltán utca 9

●  Csendes Társ – 5th district, Magyar utca 18

●  DiVino – 5th district, Szent István tér 3; 7th district, Király utca 13

●  Doc Vino Bar – 5th district, Arany János utca 12

●  Drop Shop – 5th district, Balassi Bálint utca 27

●  Élesztőház – Vino Piano, 9th district, Tűzoltó utca 22

●  Flaska Borbár – 9th district, Tompa utca 17/b

●  Fricska Gasztropub – 7th district, Dob utca 56-58

●  Gepárd és Űrhajó – 5th district, Szerb utca 15

● Kadarka bár – 6th district, Király utca 42

● Kis Bécs – 12th district, Németvölgyi út 36-38

● Kóstolom Borbár – 2nd district, Káplár utca 19

● Marlou wine bar & store - 6th district, Lázár utca 16.

● Ménesi Borbár – 11th district, Ménesi út 1

● MyWine Bar&Shop – 5th district, Arany János utca 16

● Palack Borbár – 11th district, Szent Gellért tér 3

● Stelázsi – 3rd district, Nagyszombat utca 3

● Szalonspicc- 2nd district, Lövőház utca 17

● Van Boris Borbár – 14th district, Erzsébet királyné útja 65

● vinoWonka – 8th district, Corvin sétány 2

● Zengő Bár –8th district, Krúdy Gyula utca 6

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