Vocabulary

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Hungarian language is unique and impossible to understand without deep knowledge. It is said to have some links with the Finnish, but neither we nor they understand the other. No matter how complicated and awkward this language is, if you want to decode a wine label of a Hungarian wine, you need to know tha basic vocabulary, here it is. We are happy to receive ideas to make the list broader.

Aszú (noun):

A noble sweet wine made in Tokaj region. The aszú grapes (affected by botrytis) are hand picked, macerated in must, fermenting must or base wine. Aszú wines should be aged for at least 2 years of which 18 months should be barrel aging. The wines are sold 5 or 6 ‘puttonyos’ based on the sugar content, but according to the latest regulation, the word and number of puttony can be left out.

Aszúesszencia (noun):

This term no longer exists, but it can be found in labels on older vintages then 2012. This year was the last vintage when the term could be used. It was made the same way as Tokaji Aszú. It has the highest sugar and dry extract content (i.e. over 6 puttonyos) and thus the greatest concentration in the Aszú category. Not to be confused with Eszencia!

Bor (noun):

The general word for wine

Borbár (noon):

Wine bar. Wine bars are a relatively new phenomenon in Hungary, café houses used to be more popular, but with the renaissance of wine culture, wine bars with relaxed atmosphere began to spread.

Dűlő (noun):

Single vineyard. The term is used on the label when the grapes for the given wine come from one particular vineyard.

Eszencia / esszencia (noun):

The aszú grapes are hand picked, stored, and the resulting free run juice is fermented over several years. It has very low alcohol (never above 6%) and extremely high sugar (above 450 g/l). It is often referred to as ‘nectar’, this is how it appears in the national anthem of Hungary.

Félédes (adjective):

Semi sweet.

Félszáraz (adjective):

Semi dry.

Fordítás (noun):

A rarely made traditional wine style from Tokaj wine region. After the first pressing the aszú berries are macerated for a second time and pressed again. The resulting wine is known as Fordítás.

Házasítás (noun):

Barrel originally from the village of Gönc. Now it is an oak barrel of 136 litres used for aging aszú wines in Tokaj wine region. The area of Zemplén (broader area then the Tokaj wine region) is famous for its woods. Zemplén oak is used for making high quality barrels.

Édes (adjective):

Sweet. Hungary, especially Tokaj is famous for its natural sweet wines. Sugar added, low quality red and white wines are still popular among the less educated wine drinkers.

Gönci hordó (noun):

Barrel originally from the village of Gönc. Now it is an oak barrel of 136 litres used for aging aszú wines in Tokaj wine region. The area of Zemplén (broader area then the Tokaj wine region) is famous for its woods. Zemplén oak is used for making high quality barrels.

Illat (noun):

Scent (of the wine). A word with positive meaning only, it is not used when the wine is smelly, stinky.

Hordós / hordós érlelésű (adjective):

Barrel aged wine.

Hordó (noun):

Barrel

Kóstol (verb):

Taste, sample (wine).

Íz (noun):

Taste (of the wine). Neutral word.

Pálinka (noun):

Hungary’s origin protected spirit distilled from some fruit or the marc of the grapes. The fruit must be grown and harvested in Hungary. Autochton grape varieties like Irsai Olivér are popular as ‘pálinka’.

Palack (noun):

Bottle.

Máslás (noun):

A traditional, rarely made wine from Tokaj wine region. The must is poured onto aszú pomace and mixed. The aszú pomace cannot be pressed properly and 20-30% must remains, which if mixed with fermenting must or new wine, provides a larger quantity of must.

Puttony (noun):

The puttony was a 20–25 litre wooden hod, or basket, that was carried on the back during the harvest. Today made of metal or plastic. The number of puttony of an Aszú wines was traditionally the number of hods of aszú berries to a Gönci barrel (136 litres). Today the word still denotes the concentration of the wine.

Préselés (noun):

Pressing.

Pezsgő (noun):

Sparkling wine. The term ‘pezsgő’ refers to all types of sparkling wine from charmat to Champagne. Nowadays there is a tendency to produce at least one brand of sparkling wine in still wine wineries.

Tölgyfa (noun):

Oak.

Törköly (noun):

Marc or pomace. What remains after pressing the grapes (skins, seeds, etc.) The origin protected Hungarian spirit, the ‘pálinka’ is made of some fruit or the ‘törköly’ of the grapes.

Száraz (adjective):

Dry.

Szamorodni (noun):

From the Polish meaning ‘as it was grown’, or as it was shriveled on the vine. A traditional Tokaji wine made from bunches containing both healthy and botrytised grapes. It can be both sweet or dry.

Zamat (noun):

Taste, but only with positive meaning. It is used when a wine has an intensive, rich taste.

Üveg (noun):

Glass (literally), but it often refers to bottle.

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