A Guide to the Best Wines Of Hungary

The country of Hungary has been world-renowned for centuries by wine enthusiasts as one of the top producers of dessert wine on the entire planet.

While the famous sweet fortified wines of Hungary’s Tokaj region are the most famous, there are a number of different high-quality styles of wine that are being produced around the country today.

A number of different wine grapes thrive in Hungary, including ancient indigenous wine grapes and specially formulated hybrids.

The Top Wines of Hungary

The wines of Hungary are best known for their unique tokaji and furmint grapes, yet there are several other varietals that are grown in the region.

tokaj

Tokaj

Tokaj is by far the most famous and important wine region in all of Hungary, and the wines produced here are some of the most highly regarded dessert wines in the entire world. The region is located in the northeast portion of Hungary and enjoys a fairly warm climate.

Furmint, Harslevelu, and Muscat Blanc are the three grape varietals that are used to make the world-famous and highly regarded wines of Tokaj, and the grape juices are concentrated using a historic and natural process.

The wine grapes that are grown in the Tokaj are allowed to develop a controlled fungus that creates tiny holes in the skin of the wine grape. These holes allow excess water to escape the wine grape while preserving the sugars and fruit flavors inside.

This fungus is called botrytis, and for hundreds of years it has been referred to as “noble rot.” Botrytis-affected wines from the Tokaj region are world-renowned for containing luscious sweetness while still maintaining a considerable amount of punchy acidity.

While there are different sweetness levels in the different dessert wines produced in Tokaj, nearly all contain 30 grams per liter of residual sugar or more. For this reason, many wine enthusiasts refer to these wines as the “sweet nectar” of Hungary.

Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos is the most popular bottle of wine that is produced in the Tokaj region today. It has received a number of prestigious awards and accolades, including a gold medal at the 2022 VinAgora International Wine Competition.

The same producer also makes one of the most highly-priced and coveted bottles of dessert wine in all of Europe. Royal Tokaji Essencia is considered by many wine lovers to be one of the finest bottles of fortified wine in the entire world.

Furmint

furmint

Furmint is the most widely planted wine grape across the country of Hungary, and it is the primary grape in the world-famous blends of Tokaj. Hungary is the number one producer of the Furmint grape in the world today, accounting for over 85 percent of plantings worldwide.

This white-skinned grape is world renowned for containing high levels of bright acidity and producing wines that age well as a result. When allowed to develop botrytis, the Furmint grape produces one of the most complex and sophisticated tasting profiles in the world.

While it is most often used to produce the fortified wines of the Tokaj region, Furmint also produces some of the most interesting single-varietal white wines in the entire world. These still Furmint wines are high in acidity and are well known for their extended length of finish.

Just like the famous dessert wines of the region, the dry white wines of Hungary are grown and produced in the Tokaj region with minimal intervention from winemakers. These make fantastic summertime wines, and the high levels of acidity make them very food friendly.

Oremus ‘Mandolas’ Tokaji Dry is the most famous example of a dry white wine being produced using the Furmint grape in the Tokaj region of Hungary today. This wine was recently featured on the 2020 Wine Spectator “Top 100” list, leading to a huge boost in sales and recognition.

Domaine Kiralyudvar Tokaji Furmint Sec is another highly regarded bottle of wine that is made with 100 percent Furmint. It represents an incredible value on a highly prized Hungarian wine at around $25 per bottle.

Indigenous Wine Grapes

indigenous wine grapes

While Furmint is the most famous and well-known wing grape being grown in the country of Hungary, there are also a number of local wine grapes that have been produced domestically for hundreds of years.

Harslevelu

Harslevelu is a Hungarian wine grape that is also sometimes grown in Slovakia. It is one of the key grapes in the famous Tokaji blend, and is also used to make high-quality bottles of single varietal wine that are known for carrying distinct smoky flavors.

This is the second most prominent wine grape in all of Hungary, and it is estimated that the combination of Furmint and Harslevelu grapes makes up about 90 percent of all wine grape planting in the country today.

Fekete Pince Harslevelu is one of the most famous bottles of Hungarian wine that is made outside of the Tokaj region. Produced in Somlo, this single varietal bottle of Harslevelu wine has received high marks from a number of prominent wine critics.

Kikelet Pince ‘Lonyai’ Tokaji Harslevelu is a refined bottle of 100 percent Harslevelu that has become very popular at wine retailers and restaurants across the country. It has received high marks from Jancis Robinson, who is one of the most important wine critics in the world.

Olaszrizling

Olaszrizling is the local name for the wine grape varietal that is most often referred to as Welschriesling around the world. This white-skinned wine grape produces tame wines that are light and contain a refreshing amount of acidity.

This wine grape is most often produced in the country of Austria and can either be used to make fortified dessert wines or bottles of dry single varietal still wine. This is one of the most successful late harvest grapes that takes well to the noble rot.

Laposa Olaszrizling is an affordable bottle of dry wine that has become one of the most popular and commonplace bottles in the entire country over the past decade. It represents an incredible value on a solid bottle of wine at around $10 per bottle.

Tornai Top Selection Ilona Olaszrizling is another bottle of Welschriesling that is well known for offering high quality at a very reasonable price. It is produced in the Solmo region, and a bottle can usually be purchased at markets and wine shops for under $15.

Keknyelu

The Keknyelu wine grape is fairly rare and is only grown in the country of Hungary today. The wines produced using the Keknyelu grape are considered to be medium-bodied, and the tasting notes are often floral and earthy.

Laposa Keknyelu is a fantastic bottle of medium-bodied white wine that can often be purchased for under $15 per bottle. This bottle of wine is fairly low in alcohol while being high in acidity, and contains under 13 percent alcohol per volume.

Szeremley Keknyelu is considered by the vast majority of wine enthusiasts to be one of the more high-end bottles of wine produced using the Keknyelu grape. It has received a number of impressively high scores from wine critics, including the esteemed Jancis Robinson.

Hybrid Wine Grapes

hybrid wine grapes

There are a number of different wine grape hybrids that have been specifically created in the country of Hungary for local production. These wines have been carefully crafted to adapt perfectly to the local growing conditions, and they are becoming more prominent every year.

Irsai Olivér

The Irsai Olivér grape was first created in the year 1930, and it is regarded by many as one of the most successful examples of early grape hybrids in all of Hungary.

The tasting notes in the wines produced by Irsai Olivér are considered by many to be similar to those of Muscat.

Frittmann Irsai Oliver is the most popular bottle of Hungarian wine that is made using only the Irsai Olivér grape. It is fairly affordable and offers a unique tasting profile that can only be created using this rare wine grape.

Cserszegi Fűszeres

The Cserszegi Fuszeres grape was first produced in the 1960s and is a cross between the Irsai Olivér and Gewurztraminer grapes. Small amounts of this Hungarian wine grape have been exported and successfully planted and grown in Italy as well.

Gere & Schubert Cserszegi Fűszeres is one of the most popular bottles of wine being produced in the Villany region of Hungary today. This dry white wine used only the Cserszegi Fűszeres grape, and is one of the most unique and remarkable Hungarian wines on the market today.

Other Wine Grapes

other wine grapes

The Blaufränkisch wine grape is very dark-skinned and most commonly grown across the border in the country of Austria, and it is also produced in Germany in smaller quantities.

It is estimated that around 20,000 acres of Blaufränkisch are currently planted in Hungary.

There have also been an increasing number of French wine grapes planted over the past few years, and it is now fairly common to find Hungarian takes on the world-famous Bordeaux blend that is made using a combination of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.

The Wines of Hungary – Conclusion

The wines of Hungary are among the most famous and respected when it comes to the production of high-quality fortified dessert wines.

There are a number of other wine styles that also thrive here, and many different wine grapes are grown domestically today.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you are a fan of Hungarian wine, and let other wine lovers know which bottles from this highly respected wine-producing country are your favorite!

Also, check out our list of Wine Regions to help deepen your knowledge of wine!