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Buying Tokay

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Buying Tokay

I'm a great fan of Tokay wine, but last time I was in Budapest (2004) I didn't buy any because it was so outrageously expensive. I suspect this may be because I was looking in expensive touristy shops.

Can anyone recommend a good wine merchant in Budapest where I could buy a few bottles at the same sort of prices the locals pay?

I'll be staying at the Corinthia Grand Hotel, so somewhere near there would be ideal.

Many thanks

NM

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1. Re: Buying Tokay

The price of the Tokaji aszú depends on the quality. The ones with 3 puttony are cheaper, 5 puttony is more expensive. (It is more concentrated.) Some award-winning bottles may cost a fortune.

If you would like to buy a really nice Tokaji, check these shops, where the staff can help you:

bortarsasag.hu/en/…budapesten

But if you go to a bigger supermarket, you will also find a nice selection.

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2. Re: Buying Tokay

Many thanks for that, looks like a good place to start. It's the 6 puttony that I'm really after.

nyc, usa
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3. Re: Buying Tokay

Great Tokaji is among the most expensive wine you can find; for reliable service from a thoughtful seller who has tried many of the wines in the shop, I go to the Bortarsasag branch on Raday utca near Kalvin ter.

There is something approaching consensus that Istvan Szepsy is the most consistently excellent of the winemakers in Tokaji and his wines are not cheap. Among others, Bortarsasag does not carry them, but the wines from Janos Arvay (whose is no longer associated with his Tokaji vineyard but whose wines from 2003 and before remain extraordinary if/where/when they can be found (try the Iz Lelo shop on Arany Janos utca). I am partial as well to the Tokaji cuvees from Degenfeld (Andante) and Szepsy and Kiralyudvar (wonderful wines!) and for much less money Vayi (available at Bortarsasag for 2700 HUF).

The cuvees tend to be a bit less intense and more nuanced than the Aszus but should be tried and cvertainly not ignored, and they are generally a bit less costly than the comparable Aszu.

Arvay also made the house Tokaji for Gerbeaud and you may still be able to find that there - it was an excellent wine at a comparatively good price.

You can also go to the shop in the Zwack Museum near Haller utca on the river, not far from the Palace of the Arts ... Zwack, which is most famed for its palinkas, distributes Diznoko Tokaji and has decent prices on a range of Diznoko wines. The 1993 5 putanyos by the way was developed by Janos Arvay when he was working for Diznoko. It's better, I think, than the 6. Between 5s and 6s there is not always a clear hierarchy, with year and taste often making more difference than the number of putanyos.

The Kiralyudvar Lapis Cuvee is a pretty special wine (made by Szepsy when he was one of the partners in that vineyard). While the cuvees tend to be a bit lighter than the Aszus, they merit close attention. Szepsy's own single-plot cuveeas, Degenfeld's Andante, and Arvay's Edes Elet all strike me as better than any Aszu widely available outside Hungary.

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4. Re: Buying Tokay

You can even get Tokaj at the Tesco or Match/Spar grocery shops. That's where I do all my souvenir liquor/wine shopping because it's just regular priced.

nyc, usa
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5. Re: Buying Tokay

Three things to bear in mind when buying wine in a grocers or a hypermart (where there's no one around to provide objective and informed advice):

First, the overwhelming majority of the wines available in Hungary, even the very best ones, are not available widely outside it; so you may well be faced with a series of choices and no way to decide except by price.

Second, the mass market vendors and the small grocers have a surprisingly good selection but they typically don't stock the very high end.

Third, the other side of the first, you'll be best served in these sorts of stores if you go in looking for a particular wine in a particular vintage and a particular number of putanyos.

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6. Re: Buying Tokay

Hey,

Locals dont buy that much Tokaji ,only just for presents or special occasion.

If I were you I would locate a grocery store Match/Tesco/Spar then go into and grab though the selection there is quite limited ,but buying from these shops is easy on the wallet.

I found the following webpage for you:

www.groby.hu

Here there is english option and you can have a feeling about the variety and prices of tokaji wines available as mass market products.

However,if you want to buy something rare both the locals/foreigners are paying the same prices in the wine shops.

If you want something special as a Tokaji I would buy Tokaji Maximilian...it is even available in Tescos in Hungary.

nyc, usa
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7. Re: Buying Tokay

I'm not sure whether NautiusMaximus is reading this, but if so, it's time to define what he or she means by beig a "great fan" of Tokajs and "good wine merchant." You can get a lot of excellent wines in supermarkets or hypermarkets, at excellent prices -- a good bet is the Szeremley Badacsony Rizling or the Nyakas Sauvignon Blanc -- though the savings are not likely to be much morethan 10-15% over what a place like the excellent Bortarsasag shops would charge (and there is no one around to give consistently reliable advice).

But I took and take the query to be from someone who really likes wines and appreciates nuance , someone who fancies they can tell the difference between Tokajis other than the level of sweetness.

For that sort of person the discount chains are a lost cause, and a search for a genuinely good priced interesting Tokaji is more about advice as to the name on the label than the place to buy it (though the shops on Vaci are likely not a great idea, nor is the airport duty free shop).

Let me repeat two suggestions I made above: for excellent Tokajis at a less than astronomical price, look at the cuvees from the very high end vineyards -- they're half the price or less, and extremely interesting wines (though they don't have the distinctive nuanced syrupy quality of a 6 putanyos wine from the same vineyard). And among cuvees, if you want a bargain, seek out the Vayi. If you want to taste it, and have a lovely meal to boot, head for Cafe Bouchon, where it was on the wine list last I looked.

If what you want is good advice from someone with a wide range of knowledge and a decent command of English, I still recommend the Bortarsasag on Raday utca, though I',m sure the other branches are equally good...I just don't shop there because Raday is closer to me.

nyc, usa
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8. Re: Buying Tokay

By the way, for an excellent vrange of wines by the glass, and excellent food I'm told, the Bock Bisztro in or adjacent to the Corinthia is owned by one of the best vineyards and has a remarkable range of wines, including Tokajis, though they stop short of the very high end options among them. Still, a serious and excellent list and all available by the glass.

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9. Re: Buying Tokay

Thanks John. Yes, I'm still reading.

Your interpretation of my request is good. I wouldn't claim to be the world's greatest wine connoisseur, but I certainly like to think I can tell the difference between a wine that is merely sweet and the sophistication of a good Tokaji. Your suggestions look well worth checking out.

Last time I was in Budapest, my time for shopping was very limited and the shops on Vaci and the airport duty free was pretty much as far as I got. I think that's probably why I was a bit disappointed with what was on offer.

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10. Re: Buying Tokay

Ah, the joys of business travel. After all that, I actually had very limited time for Tokaji buying, and certainly didn't manage to get to Raday Utca. However, all your helpful advice was not completely in vain: I went to a wine merchant very close to my hotel called In Vino Veritas, where I bought a couple of Aszus and, which I wouldn't have tried without the advice I got here, a cuvee. I also had a quick look in the shop at the airport and was rather surprised to find an Aszu Essencia, so I couldn't resist getting it.

Anyway, even though they probably weren't chosen as carefully as I might have done, I'm thoroughly looking forward to trying them.

Thanks again for the tips.