While wine is produced throughout Hungary, the wine regions and the wine produced to the North-East of Hungary is particularly fine and the most famous. Even so, these wine regions are not particularly well geared up for mass tourism. Luckily, wines from all the country’s best producers can be found in Debrecen, the heart and capital of Eastern Hungary, located just south of the wine regions.
Gateway to Eastern Hungary’s Wine Regions
Debrecen is the perfect location to use as a launchpad when visiting Hungary’s most famous wine regions, not only because it is the largest city in the East but also because it is the last stop on the M3 motorway heading North East from Budapest, directly towards the wine regions. Alternatively, you can fly to Debrecen’s international airport, the only one outside of Budapest in Hungary.
The Wine Regions
Directly North of Debrecen on the foothills of the Volcanic Zemplén Mountains and along the river Bodrog is the Tokaj region, it continues up until the Slovakian border. The region is famous for its Aszú sweet wines but also for its Dry Furmint. There are also blends of Hárslevelű, Muscat Blanc, Kővérszőlő or Zéta grapes.
The Aszú produced in Tokaj is ice wine and is particularly special because the conditions for its production only occur in several vintages per decade. Ice wine is a rare commodity on a global scale, while it originated in Hungary in the 16th Century, today the world-renowned Ice wine is produced in several other locations besides Tokaj, for example in Germany in the Rheingau region and in Niagra in the state of Ontario, Canada, but none can claim the long history and heritage of Tokaj ice wine.
After Tokaj, the wine region known as Eger is Hungary’s second most famous wine region. Known for its red blends and its unique Egri Bikavér (previously known as bulls blood) variety. Egri Bikavér quality has been rediscovered after the mass production of lower quality produce during the communist era, now sold in fine restaurants globally.
Bikavér wine is all about blending, and increasingly the Kékfrankos variety is used because Hungary has the biggest planting of this variety in the world (also known as Austrian Blaufränkisch). When buying Egri Bikivér note that it comes in three distinct quality levels, ”Classic”, ”Grand Superior” and ”Single Site” Bikivér, and the price tends to reflect these levels. Eger is also known for its white wine, the Egri Leányka, Debrői Hárslevelű, and Egerszóláti Olaszrizling varieties.
Not far from the Tokaj region are the Bükk Mountains and the Bükk national park which is where most of the wine region is located. Bükk is famous for its white wines.
Wine coach tours are independently organised and based on sufficient demand, available from Debrecen if you especially want to see the centres of production, however, these locations are not geared up for tourism, alternatively, you can obtain the best wines at several locations in Debrecen city centre.
- Belvárosi Borünnep,
- Város Bora
There are celebrations of wine throughout the year, of particular note, is the popular “Wine and Jazz” event held at the beginning of August each year (1st-4th August). This year, 2019 will be the biggest event yet with around 70 family-owned wineries represented. Due to the popularity of the event, it is best to book accommodation well in advance to avoid disappointment.