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Quintessential Wine Tasting Experience at the Buda Castle

The 18th Budapest International Wine and Champagne Festival proved to be a highlight of the capital city's festival scene.

SPREAD OVER FIVE DAYS, the 18th International Wine and Champagne Festival has again proved to be the highlight of Budapest's festival scene in the fall. Event attendees were able to taste and network with independent growers to learn about the differences between styles, regions and country production methods and take mundane wine tasting to new levels. Because of the beautiful historic setting of the UNESCO World Heritage site Buda Castle, thousands of Hungary's best reds and whites, live music, gourmet food, and countless programs, this festival is still worth visiting every year. The series of events this year attracted more than 55,000 people, according to Rita Oláh from the organizer Hungarian Viniculture Public Benefit Company. “This is more than last year, which indicates that fortunately, the crisis did not affect us.”

One of Central Europe's most prestigious, most popular wine and combined art festival offered grape harvest parade, champagne knights initiation ceremony, Wine Academy, folk music concerts and Hungarian and Mediterranean food this year. "Wine producers make every effort to attend this event, which is Hungary's biggest, oldest and most popular wine festival," organizers say, adding that the festival offers a little bit more every year, by taking new programs on board.

Viva Espana
15 countries and 200 vineyards introduced their 3,000 types of wine this year. Alongside the home-grown nectars, numerous foreign wines were available by noted wine traders. “Special attention was devoted to the festival's guest, the Spanish Freixenet Group, who brought a fantastic range of tastes and cultural programs to Budapest. They were extremely successful according to the attendees' reflections we gained so far.” Oláh couldn't tell who will be next year's guest country, but she noted that they have already started discussions with Chile and France.

“Wine-lovers are usually curious to learn about wine competitions and to become acquainted with judging methods,” Oláh says. “Wine competitions have strict international rules, involve the most experienced wine judges and they are usually hidden from the public. We took the opportunity to kick the habit, bringing the world of wine competitions very close to our visitors,” explains Oláh. This year, the festival's VinAgora tent offered information on the first wine judging computer system in the world, in use since 2000, as well as a chance to become a wine judge for an hour, with the assistance of wine judging professionals.

“Our Wine Academy was extremely successful, as well,” Oláh continues. “This three-day-long lecture series program represents the actual wine market, traditions, historical and cultural issues, supported with enjoyable wine tasting lead by Hungarian and international experts. This event is a wonderful opportunity for wine enthusiasts to make direct contacts with the winemakers.” Due to the limited number of places, Oláh suggests buying tickets much in advance for this particular program.

Wine labels
As part of the Wine Festival, an exhibition is held at the Hungarian National Gallery every year. This year, hundreds of wine labels were on display, to outline the history of the Hungarian and international wine-producing regions from the 1870's until present. “There is an increasing number of wine festivals these days. But so far, our series is the oldest, biggest and bears the strongest reputation,” Oláh concludes. “We are proud to represent a wine and viniculture event that even on its own makes Budapest and Hungary worth visiting.”

So, dear reader, grab a glass for the sake of this event to be continued next year, with brand new programs and the usual splendid atmosphere!

Réka Alíz Francisck

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