What do sommeliers drink?

Sommeliers are our friends, colleagues and partners. They taste at least as much as we do, and talk as much (if not more) about wine than us. We took a bottle, sat down with them to talk and only asked them to tell us what comes into their minds about wines.  

Krisztián Juhász

Borkonyha, Textúra

“You can choose anything but not catering. This was the advice I got from my parents and grandparents, who themselves all worked in the hospitality business. It goes without saying that it was obvious that I’d join the line.”

 

Bott Frigyes Rajnai Rizling-Sauvignon Blanc unfiltered 2017

“I tasted this wine from the barrel and from amphora as well, and it was really interesting to see how it’s developing. A bit of tannin is apparent but there’s nothing exaggerated in it. A beautiful, rich wine. The acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Riesling is a lot higher than that of other varieties and for this reason it’s really complex. I think it’s the best blend in the Raw series. It’s still kind of young, I’m curious to see what it will be like in a couple of years.”

 

  

Máté Horváth

MÁK

“I’ve been working at MÁK for five years. If I wish to, I can make changes in the wine list every day and bring in special varieties and rare wines. When I’m not in the restaurant, I’m preparing for next year’s sommelier world championship in Belgium.”

 

 Pannonhalmi Infusio (Cabernet Franc, Merlot) 2016

“When we talk about big reds, Villány, Szekszárd or maybe the south of Balaton comes to mind. Me, on the other hand, I always love to recommend Pannonhalma as a surprise and it has never caused disappointment. This wine has character and a really strong personality. It has the elegance that can be linked to the place of growth, it’s made from perfectly ripe grapes, it has high alcohol and one can feel the braveness of barrel use. It suits it that it’s not too Merlot-y, not unctuous but it has a great attitude.” ”

 

 

Ilcsi Mácsai

Tokio

“It’s still difficult for women to stand their ground in the sommelier world. Although it’s recognised that our taste is more sophisticated, we still have to prove our competence on a daily basis. I’m in charge of the wine recommendations and wine list of Tokio restaurant. Asian cuisine has always been good with the high-acidity, aromatic whites, the not too tannic reds and of course the traditional method sparkling wines. New World Sauvignon Blanc is always a hit too.”

 

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018

“There’s some kind of modernity in it: it doesn’t want to jump out of the glass, yet it’s friendly and elegant. I really appreciate that it has the typical New Zealand notes, the fruitiness, the aroma-richness, at the same time we’ve also got an abundance of refreshing acidity. I can see it as an opening wine at a dinner, or as an aperitif at a party.

 

  

Márton Nagy

Prime Steakhouse

“My first tasting experience is connected to Transylvania and to my granddad’s wine. It might not belong to my favourites today, but it’s good to think back on it. I’m given a free hand in choosing the wines at the Prime Steakhouse, although it’s obvious that mainly the serious reds match the style of the restaurant.”

 

Ruppert Villányi Franc 2015

“I think that out of the Bordeaux varieties, it’s the Cabernet Franc and the Merlot that are the nicest in Villány and this is a 100% Franc selection. Even among the blends I prefer the ones in which the Cab Franc dominates, then the Merlot and then the Cabernet Sauvignon in the smallest proportion. It’s a meaty, chewable, masculine wine with 14.5% alcohol that doesn’t stick out but arrives pronouncedly after the sip. It’s a young wine, time and ageing will surely do it good.”

 

 

János Fogarasi-Frank

St. Andrea Wine and Gourmet Bar

“It was when I worked as a waiter at a wine dinner that I decided that I wanted to deal with wine more seriously. It seemed like a rock star thing when someone stood up and talked confidently about wines. My best experience in the restaurant as a sommelier is when a guest simply says: ‘I’m going with you’.”

 

St. Andrea Nagy Kadarka 2016

“Kadarka is a great example to show that if we start dealing with Hungarian varieties, we might make the same journey as Sangiovese in Italy or Tempranillo in Spain. This wine bravely steps out of the comfort zone of Kadarka and still, if I want to show a great Kadarka to a guest, I’m sure to take out this one. It’s fiery, spicy and classy. It’s one fault is that only a limited quantity was made from it. We have to look after it.”

 

 

Csaba Fekete

Zsidai Group

“I don’t count as a sommelier in the classic sense of the word, but what I do is surely a rarity in Hungary today. My task is to compile the wine list of the 13 restaurants that belong to the Zsidai Group and also to train the waiters.”

 

Kiss Gábor Enigma (Merlot) 2016 and Kiss Gábor Code Villányi Franc 2016

“These two wines are always a great experience, we just have to let them achieve their full potential. If we consume them above the usual red wine temperature (even at 20 degrees), that’s when they start opening up really nicely. The Code opens with earthier aromas, then the blackberry-blueberry fruitiness almost explodes from the background. It’s 14% alcohol, yet it’s an incredibly good and balanced wine. Nothing sticks out, nothing is warming, ripe tannins, good barrel use. Nice and elegant. In the case of the Enigma, first a bit of chocolaty character appears, which turns into a fresh cocoa aroma, then after 20 minutes into intense coffee. Out of the fruits, plum and cherry occur here. Both wines have markedly good acidity, they are certain to be in a perfect shape even after a few years.”

 

 

 

Tamás Langó

KNRDY

“I learnt my enthusiasm towards wine from my parents. I know from them that wine drinking brings such lovely moments to cherish in our lives that we always have to do it in style. It was entirely natural at ours that for the meals we opened good wine. We often had wine dinners, tastings at home and we also did wine tours. Here, at KNRDY, I work with a unique and hugely diverse wine selection. In my opinion, a guest should not feel that I’m trying to impress him or her with my knowledge or that I’m trying to sound too smart. They just want to get a good wine to go with the meal, and my job is to provide an unforgettable experience without any frills.”

 

Konyári Loliense 2016

“I like Konyári wines because I can always feel in them what János Konyári’s dream has been: to create a slice of Tuscany alongside the Balaton. I like the complexity and elegance of this wine. The balance of the three Bordeaux varieties is really nice, nothing sticks out. A deep-tone, deep-aroma, yet a light, almost airy wine, which is very good to drink. The touch of spiciness that appears on the finish only makes it even more exciting. If I opened one now, I would easily serve it for laid-back wine drinking in the evening or to go with a good dinner. Also, we shall not forget that it’s a prestigious wine that is also perfect as a gift.”

 

 

Péter Pongrácz

Costes Downtown

“I think the ideal person for the hospitality business is a Buddhist, and the ideal Buddhist works in hospitality. In this profession, nothing works without empathy, you can only cooperate with people with patience and understanding.”

 

R de Ruinart

“When I worked in London and pushed the Champagne trolley next to the table, on which there were five or six champagne bottles in a huge ice bucket, I only had to ask: which one shall we start the evening with? Champagne is rudimentary, it can practically be consumed with anything. I always recommend it for an aperitif. And if we are talking about Champagne, it must be Ruinart, which is one of the most important benchmarks. We say everything about wine is decided in the vineyard, but Champagne is about the know-how and the experience. In the Blanc de Blancs category, Ruinart is really good but the rosé is also fantastic. One thing is for certain: there’s no celebration without Champagne.”

 

RUINART R de Ruinart
20 500 HUF17 836 HUF

 

Péter Blazsovszky

Babel Budapest

“Gastronomy and wine is an art form in which there are no rules, only feelings and intuition. With the wine recommendations, I do not work with patterns, instead in feelings. When I visit a restaurant as a guest, I expect the same from the staff than what I expect from myself in the opposite situation: I want them to show what they think.”

 

Figula Köves 2016

“I highly regarded Mihály Figula’s dad, I followed his career. Misi didn’t just stand his ground but also stepped it up a level. What he put down on the table with the 2015 Olaszrizling is stunning. The Olaszrizling as a variety came back from really deep, from the pub level. I got a bottle from him of the Köves in the summer. He said I should taste it for a week, and see how this wine opens up. I couldn’t wait longer than two days with it, it ran out. It was a real goosebump tasting experience. It could be put next to a big wine of any international wine region – it would surely stand its ground.”