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Category Archives: People
The Most Rewarding Moments of 2016: Taste Hungary and The Tasting Table Budapest
Posted by Gábor Bánfalvi on 01 January, 2017 in Drink ,Eat ,Explore ,People ,

2016 was such an amazing year for Taste Hungary and The Tasting Table that it was not easy to narrow them down for this post! Many things happened that opened the doors for other things to happen. Now it’s the end of the year (and I am enjoying a glass of Samuel Tinon’s dry szamorodni). I’ll put my plans aside for a few days and will start fresh and motivated for the beginning of 2017. There is so much more we can do that it feels like we’re just getting started …

Building The Taste Hungary Team

We are fortunate that Taste Hungary has been growing nicely and that we have an increasing number of customers every year. To make our offerings more colorful and attractive to a wider range of guests, we frequently develop new tours and offer more services … and we have so many new ideas (and not enough time to follow up on them!). Now that we have around 4,000 guests booking tours with us annually, our team is more important than ever. We’ve put a lot of effort into building a circle of very smart, highly-qualified people who love food and wine (and also beer) as much as we do. We’ve ended up with a team of colorful people, who all bring very different skills and interests into the mix. We all come from different areas of life, and we are all experts at some aspect of food/drink to connect us to Taste Hungary. Since I don’t meet every guest in person, the values that I believe in and share with the team are my way to communicate with guests even without meeting them. These values are the foundation of our team, and they shape us and ensure our commitment to high standards (which results in great service at the end of the day). The importance of our team goes beyond business. Our team is a happy (and growing) community made of people who make this world a better place to live.

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2016—My Year in Wine Memories
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 25 December, 2016 in Drink ,Explore ,People ,

Looking back on 2016, it’s was impossible to name favorites among the wines that I’ve tasted. I did lots of wine travel in 2016  (some related to Taste Hungary, and some was not), and had the opportunity to taste plenty of good wines from Hungary at The Tasting Table. It was the context surrounding the wines that made wine memorable for me this year. Here are my top four wine experiences of the year (including the addresses of those places that are located in Hungary). I hope 2017 will bring you some special wine travel experiences.

Read: 2016—Our Year in Wine Memories

Read: 2016—Our Year in Food Memories

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2016—Our Year in Food Memories
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 20 December, 2016 in Eat ,Explore ,People ,

We’ve eaten (and drunk) a lot this year. Hey, it’s part of the job. And we love that. Of course, not everything we’ve eaten has been good (such as a disastrous attempt at kürtőskalács in Seoul, sampled by one of our tour guides). But luckily plenty of it has been very good. We’ve asked some of our tour guides (who eat and drink for a living) to recount their year in food and share the best things they’ve eaten in 2016. Some of these eating experiences happened at restaurants in Hungary (we’ve shared the addresses here so you can try them for yourselves). Others happened during our travels around the world, which is when we are all most open to allowing ourselves to encounter new experiences and flavors. Others—like a feast Júlia ate in her hospital room, which was lovingly prepared by her father—were so personal that they left an indelible impression, which goes deeper than the actual food that was eaten. That’s the real magic of food. We hope that you also experienced some of that in 2016.

Here are some of the best things that Taste Hungary guides have eaten in 2016. We’re already looking forward to what will come in 2017!

Read about our best wine memories of 2016 here.

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The Lost World of The Jewish Wine Trade in Hungary (and The Old Habsburg Empire), Part II.
Posted by Gábor Bánfalvi on 12 October, 2015 in Drink ,Explore ,People ,

Read Part I of this series here

After researching Central European wine history—particularly how Jews were involved for centuries in the wine trade and in winemaking—over the past few years, I have found this untold story: the fascinating back story preceding the takeover of the state-owned coops in Hungary, which lasted more than forty years (and devastated Hungarian wine). The family names and trading houses that I have been reading about were big players in the European wine trade in their day, only to have their stories forgotten. Here are a few brief stories of some of the families …

Flegmann_Tokaj_Aszu

Part II.

A Few Abaúszántó Families
The Teitelbaum family, which lived in the Tokaj region for many generations, is another great example of how Jewish families were able to set up big and successful businesses which lasted for generations. Their winery was founded in 1783 in Abaújszántó. Until the beginning of World War One they saved a few bottles from every vintage since the winery was founded, making it the biggest (and oldest) collection of wine in the region. Also located in Abaúszántó was the Flegmann family. As you can see on the label here, they had an importer, the Krauss Brothers, in New York. These families knew what they were doing: selling beautiful wines in the world’s most important wine markets, with different labels depending on where the bottle was going to be sold.

Kassa 1 1938

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The Lost World of The Jewish Wine Trade in Hungary (and The Old Habsburg Empire)
Posted by Gábor Bánfalvi on 09 October, 2015 in Drink ,Explore ,People ,

Part I.

Satoraljauhely_Synagogue

There’s no denying that the Hungarian wine industry has come a long way since Communism ended in 1989. The story of the first generation of winemakers—as well as the foreign investors who brought know-how and money—to re-start the wine industry in the early 1990s is a compelling one which has been often told. But what about the Hungarian wine industry before 1990? The unfortunate Communist period, during which quality was not a concern and winemakers were expected to hand over their wines to the cooperative to be unceremoniously mixed together, is part of the narrative. And the story of phylloxera wiping out much of the vineyards during the late 19th century is also an important part of the story, which is often told.

But what about the rest of the story, particularly the period when Hungarian wine was renowned around the world? There was a time when Poland was the major export market for Hungarian wine (and the Poles are still crazy about Tokaj aszú) and Tokaj sweet wine was sold all over the world, praised by royalty, politicians, and popes. When I visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, Virginia, I was happy to see that a plaque stating the countries where his sizable wine collection came from included Hungary. This story of how the Hungarian (and Central European) wine trade functioned before the two world wars and communism is not a well-known one, and the practicalities of how the bottles got from their sleepy countryside villages of origin to the tables of fine restaurants around the world is a forgotten part of the story.

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Hungarian Wine: A Must-Read New Book By Robert Smyth
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 07 October, 2015 in Drink ,Explore ,People ,

RobSmyth_HungarianWineBook

“Now is the ideal time to tune into Hungarian wine,” writes Robert Smyth in Hungarian Wine: A Tasting Trip to the New Old World (Blue Guides, 2015). Those who are newly tuned into Hungarian wine are lucky to have this book as a guide, while those who have been following Hungarian wine for awhile will surely agree that a book like this has been missing from the English-language offerings on Hungarian wine. In fact, the book will be just as useful to newcomers to Hungarian wine—who do not yet know their kadarka from their kékfrankos, or their cserszegi from their cirfandli—as it will be to those who have been following the delicious improvements in the Hungarian wine industry for some time.

The book is organized by region, with maps, nicely-written introductions to each region, and profiles of recommended producers in each region. Each regional section concludes with a shorter list of producers to watch for, and then a brief list of food and accommodation suggestions. In his winery profiles Smyth includes winemaking details that will appease the wine geeks among us, but his writing is easy to read and will not be a turn-off to the Hungarian wine beginner. Read More

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A Q&A with Photographer Brian H Neely on His Wine Filled Year
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 02 April, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Explore ,People ,

Working in the Hungarian vineyards
Thanks to our common love of wine, we have gotten to know Brian H Neely, an American photographer, well over the past few years that he has been living in Budapest. For much of this time he has been working on a project called A Wine Filled Year. The seed of his project was born, naturally, over a glass of wine … or perhaps actually, over many glasses of wine! A Wine Filled Year has now been completed, and the result is a gorgeous book of photographs documenting several Hungarian wineries and vineyards over the course of a year. You can check out Brian’s blog for more information about the project, or you can order the book directly here. To meet Brian (and pick up a signed copy of the book!) come to his launch party on April 9th.

We spoke to Brian about his project, photography, and his favorite Hungarian wines.  Read More

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