The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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Page 40 of 134

TRAVELING H ungary truly distinguishes itself from other European destina- tions in terms of thermal water erupting from under its surface: Approximately 1,450 sources can be found across the country. The capital Budapest itself is a miracle of nature; thanks to the more than 100 thermal water sources and roughly two dozen thermals baths within the city borders, the city is known as "the spa capital of the world." Hungarian viniculture is nonethe- less as important as thermalism, and wines coming from the country's various terroirs show a diversity that is rare indeed. A myriad of styles and tastes make Hungary one of the most complex wine-producing countries in the world. Most tourists arrive in Budapest, so why not enjoy what the spa capital has to offer in terms of thermal water and wine? The presence of Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture and design is exemplified in a variety of styles; two of the city's most popular baths were built during these periods (Neo-Baroque style for Széchenyi and Art Nouveau for the Gellért Bath). Any wine from any Hungarian region would serve as a satisfying choice after a healing bath- ing program, and the capital offers a plethora of options in its wine bars and fine-dining restaurants. Next is Lake Hévíz—located near Lake Balaton's western end—which claims the title of the largest thermal lake in Europe. Hévíz not only offers beautiful scenery with floating water lilies and rising steam, but aims to provide renewal of both body and soul. While visiting Balaton, drink Olaszrizling (Welschriesling), Pinot Gris, or wine from a Hungarian indigenous type, Kéknyelu"—which comes from dolomite or basalt soils— and take in the sunset from one of the cozy winery terraces on the foothills. In the northwestern corner of the country, Sopron is famous for its Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) red wines, but don't hesitate to ask for a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah from this region's winemakers. For those planning a visit to Sopron, two names deserve the limelight: the settlements Bükfürdo" and Sárvár, which both have healing thermal sources. The former, a tiny town east of the Alps, has a range of spa and wellness hotels, as does Sárvár, which is home to one of the Royal Spas of Europe, a beautiful botanic garden, a boating lake system, and a Renaissance castle. And a visit to Hungary wouldn't be complete without a stop at the Andrássy Rezidencia Wine & Spa, the only five-star hotel in the Tokaj wine region offering unique culinary and wellness experiences. After encountering one of the above-mentioned destinations, there is one final task for any visitor: Try to say cheers Hungarian-style! When clinking glasses, locals say Egészségedre (pronounced "egg-esh ay-ged-reh") which literally means "to your health"—the perfect way to toast to a regenerating thermal program and an equally invigorating glass of wine. Liquid Miracles WINE AND THERMAL WATER ARE AMONG HUNGARY'S MOST INVIGORATING OFFERINGS PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE HUNGARIAN TOURISM AGENCY The Gellért Thermal Bath in Budapest is an example of Art Nouveau architecture in a city known as the "spa capital of the world." by Izzy Watson 38  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018

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