I want to cook, I want to pick up guys, a company party is around the corner, my in-laws are coming, I’ve popped down to the Balaton. What is the best vintage for the occasion? Rosé fröccs goes with lángos, and a harder red is good to wash down pork roast – you are probably familiar with the basics, but let us recommend you something for more special times. 10 good wines for 10 different scenarios.
Villa Tolnay Winery
It is Friday at last, the five days spent toiling away at the office are up, and you are hot and bothered, stuck on a train or in traffic on the motorway to Lake Balaton? It’s time to sit back and pour the first mouthful. Whether you manage to catch the sunset or not, we reckon a light dry white will go down either way. You drink the first glass neat, and the rest with soda water. If it is hot and you are by the Balaton, roll up your sleeves and stick your legs in the water. A perfect wine in such an event is one of the vintages made by Villa Tolnay, the Sauvignon Blanc or the Green Veltliner, for example. Prepared from the yield of Csobánc hill with artisan methods, these wines are matured in premium Austrian wooden barrels and thus will revive you in no time. A treatment like this will cost you around HUF 1,500-2,500.
Kislaki Wine Manufacture
Liptauer with fresh tomatoes, letscho with rice, eggs or sausages, or maybe grilled chicken breast or fish. The variations are practically endless: Hungarian or Mediterranean style, with bacon or without if you prefer a vegetarian option, simple or tuned up. A meal like this and a glass of good wine will make you fully appreciate that the Balaton is not referred to as a riviera for nothing. To enhance the experience, try some of the Kislaki Wine Manufacture’s Pirosbor (Redwine). This is a unique, trend-setting schiller from Szőlőskislak near Balatonboglár, carefully thought out by Géza Légli. The winemaker claims it tastes like a bowl of fresh raspberries, we think it is much better. You can’t wish for anything more for less than HUF 2,000, especially not on a full stomach.
Your cooking skills are far more advanced than putting a spread on toast, you know all the best local farmers and are not fazed by the weirdest cooking terminology, or you are planning on making a mean paprika chicken, meat stew or goulash? Then don’t mess around with the wine either: choose wisely what you’ll be sweating during the cooking process. The Cabernet Franc of the Feind Winery has matured in a wooden barrel for a year and a half to enhance a lovely slice of red meat on your plate. A bottle of this wine is sold for roughly HUF 3,900. If you are reluctant to take our word for it that this vintage is worth every penny, then believe the Hungarian and foreign winemakers who have distinguished it with various awards.
Villa Sandahl – Sandahl Rezidencia
You were mesmerized when you caught her eye as she was standing in the beach sunset, putting her sheer blue shawl on her sun-kissed, freckled shoulders? Or you simply think she’s got a nice ass and you want to chat to her for more than ten minutes? Boost your charm with that of Ambrus Bakó. Wooing will be easy with the wines of the young, smiley, bearded winemaker brought out under the Villa Sandahl label. The 2012 Welschriesling could be a favourite among girls who swear by sweet reds, because it has a somewhat sweet, peary taste, but you won’t be disappointed either, as this is in fact a dry variety. A 13.5 alcohol content will definitely help guarantee your success. Ambrus Bakó can be yours for HUF 2,500 – not a bad price to make sure your date goes well.
Konyári Wine Cellar
Over the course of history, no other phrase has brought about as much complication as I love you. Saying it can get you in some trouble, but not saying it will definitely cause everything to go up in smoke sooner or later. If you have difficulty saying it, the best thing to do is to make preparations and create the right setting to make this rare gift memorable. Even though Dániel Kornyári doesn’t participate in male beauty pageants, lucky for all of the other potential contestants, looking at him many think that he has an almost illegal genetic advantage that yould even risk disqualification. But he produces wines which you can fall in love risk-free, and which serve as a great accompaniment to those particular words and very important questions. One of them is the Konyári Loliense. The white goes for HUF 2,000 and the red for HUF 4,000, both made from a flawless selection of lovely South Balaton grapes.
2HA Vineyard and Wine Cellar
The friends of your mom and dad have popped down for the weekend from their snazzy villa in Buda to try and get the 10-person luxury yacht out onto the water? You think after two years you can win over your mother-in-law, who always finds fault with everything and eyes every drink served to her distrustfully? You want to impress your American relatives who have decided to pay you a visit over the long weekend? The 2HA Tabunello has quite the price tag, costing more than HUF 6,000. The price speaks volumes, but you get a very fine vintage indeed in return, so this is the one you should go with. The Tabunello is made from the grape sangiovese, which is generally used as the ingredient of excellent Tuscan wines. Experimenting with a wine like this on Szent György Hill is as daringly cool as snatching the whiskey from the hands of your dad’s business partner and recommending a vintage like this instead.
Káli Kövek Winery
Your firm has planned a party by the lake, and it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up the girl from legal or make you boss’ jaw drop? Flaunting your knowledge of wine and a bit of fake wine snobbery does the trick every time. This is a great recipe also if you are the new chick, who would love to put herself out there but has only spoken twice in the first six months and only to ask for paper that goes in the Xerox machine. Recommending a carefully selected wine can do no harm. Talking about the Káli Kövek Sauvignon Blanc with a dash of self-irony, you could say such things as it takes a while to open up, but if you are patient and swirl it around, it rewards you with a sweet attack; then the mature acids create length and you can feel the seven months of oak barrel aging in the finish. A bottle goes for HUF 1,700, so it won’t strip your wallet, and even those will be secretly delighted by it who, on a regular workday, are trying to hate you with every fibre of their being. If the company party ends up being a disaster, take comfort in the fact that you’ve at least had a kick-ass wine.
Jásdi Wine Cellar
Story telling nights are a must at Balaton outings with friends, whether you end up swinging on the plastic patio chairs in the summer or poking the fire in autumn or spring. Whose wine could be more suitable for loosening your tongue than István Jásdi’s, who knows all the best lakeside sagas himself. Rushing to the local grocery store ten minutes before closing, you’ll probably find all Jásdi’s Lőczedombi wines gone, but don’t give up hope entirely. Gather your friends and climb up to the wine terrace of everyone’s uncle. If you are feeling lazy, you’ll only have to jog as far as the train station in Csopak to check out his wine bar. You can fill your tanks enough there to keep you going until the next morning, or at least until you’ve told your most important stories.
Let’s all admit that sometimes we all drink wine to help us let our hair down. You need wines which don’t require a lot of thought, that you don’t have to draw a bit of air into your mouth along with, or stop and muse in the middle of each sip and moan about the finish.
Of course, it is always good to stay stylish, and what better way to do that than making Balaton wine the party drink of your choice. Try the Skizo Rosé or the blend of Pinot Blanc-Chardonnay, and you’ll be much fitter the next day than if you’d had some awful hedge-wine. You won’t have to worry about looking into your wallet the next day: the price of Skizo wines varies between HUF 1,000 and HUF 2,000.
Last minute options
What to do if you feel like drinking Balaton wine, but the wine shops and wine cellars are all closed or too far away? Thankfully, there are a handful of wine cellars around the Balaton whose products are sold in mid-sized supermarkets and town-limits Tescos all over the country. The top picks include the Légli Blanc and Rosé from the southern side of the lake, any items from Mihály Figula in Füred and Laposa wines from the Badacsony. You can always count on these if you arrive unprepared or if you have underestimated the thirst of your drinking buddies. Everything in moderation, though.