Hungary’s Wine Scene in the Heart of Budapest
We didn’t have room to squeeze in a day trip to Hungary’s wine country during our short three day itinerary in Budapest. Although Etyek-Buda is Hungary’s closest wine region to Budapest, between catching a show at the opera house, discovering the Great Market Hall, touring Buda and Pest by foot, visiting the Hospital in the Rock, and trying new restaurants, we just couldn’t seem to find the time to squeeze in a visit to the countryside for some wine tasting. And while I’m not a big drinker, wine or otherwise, I still wanted to experience Hungary’s wine culture. So I was elated to discover a unique tasting room in the beautiful Buda Castle District, Faust Wine Cellar.
Located in the Hilton Budapest next to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, Faust Wine Cellar is located underground, 54 stairs down in a section of the hotel known as the Dominican Cloister.
While I was initially a little disappointed that Faust doesn’t offer tours of its facilities where we could see barrels and see firsthand how the wines are produced, it does offer a variety of wine tasting packages for most budgets, during which the host provides some details about the wines including which regions they’re from and how they’re made. Despite wanting to get all of the nitty gritty details about the wines, the funny thing is that I remember NOTHING about any of them except to say that they were good. I just wasn’t in travel writer/blogger mode and didn’t bother taking any notes (sorry). In any case, Faust is a family-owned cellar that opened in 2009, and it only purchases exclusive wines from small, family-sized wineries. These wines aren’t exported or available in markets.
Perhaps because Faust is a family-owned operation, they put a lot of care into setting the right ambiance in the cellar. Wine racks line the wall and the dim lighting is accented by candle-lit tables. While a tasting isn’t a “couples’ activity,” the atmosphere is quite romantic. Those looking to turn a visit to Faust into a full on affair can even order lunch or dinner to accompany their tasting. We had other dinner plans for the night, so we decided to just stick with a basic tasting.
Our tasting included a sampling of six wines which included reds, whites, and a rosé accompanied by a basket of fresh, warm bread rolls. I’m a lightweight drinker, so towards the end of the tasting, I was starting to feel quite tipsy.
Following the wine tasting, I was sent over the edge when our host added in a pálinka sample of our choice – Jave chose black cherry while I opted for peach. Man, pálinka is strong – definitely not for lightweights like me! Pálinka is a traditional fruit brandy from countries in East-Central Europe. Only fruit spirits mashed, distilled, matured, and bottled in Hungary (and similar apricot spirits from four provinces in Austria) can officially be called pálinka. With that shot of pálinka, I was officially toast and I completely knocked out on the bus ride back to our hotel in Pest.
Overall, a visit to Faust is a great alternative to visiting Hungary’s wine country for travelers on a tight schedule. Yet, my curiosity about Hungary’s wine country is still burning, so if and when we return to Budapest, I’ll definitely prioritize a countryside wine getaway in our itinerary.
Plan Your Visit:
- Address: H-1014 Budapest, Hess András Square 1-3 (inside Hilton Budapest)
- Hours: Thurs.-Mon. 2-9pm, closed Tues. & Wed.
- Reservations aren’t required, but highly recommended. To reserve your tasting, shoot an e-mail to faustbor [at] enternet [dot] hu.
- We paid about 4900 Forint/$20 per person at the time of our tasting, but click here to see Faust’s current pricing and to check out their tasting menu.
- Faust only accepts cash. There is an ATM on the hotel’s grounds.
- It can get a little chilly underground, so dress accordingly.