For most of 2020, I hardly left my Florida apartment for any reason other than to get my mail. Food was delivered, work was done online and any socializing happened on FaceTime or Zoom.
Eventually, though, between prolonged isolation and discouraging news reports, it was time to send out an SOS and treat myself to some good wines.
As a former wine importer, I was jonesing for the Olaszrizling and Kékfrankos wines and others I’d enjoyed during my travels to Hungary, but where to find them in Florida? Although local shops delivered, no Hungarian bottles were on hand. Wine club ads all over Instagram and Facebook offered some hope, but they chose the wines I’d get, and most were domestic.
No friends, nowhere to go, no wine— someone had to have what I wanted. I had cabin fever, and the only cure was good Hungarian wine.
I emailed wineries in Hungary hoping to get a case shipped to me. No luck.
“We’re sorry, but we cannot ship outside of the E.U.,” they wrote.
Just when I thought I’d have to cave and go with domestic, Bacchus heard my pleas. Through the magic of the internet, an ad from Taste Hungary appeared on my Facebook page. The owners, Gábor and Carolyn Banfálvi, with businesses in Budapest and Washington, D.C., were friends of mine, who happened to be selling the wines I wanted—online, in the U.S., with delivery within a week. Sweet!
Did I need to join a club? The website, tastehungary.us, said I could if I wanted to; alternatively, they could send their special selections to me (which were pretty decent choices), or I could pick my own wines from their list. I chose my own—three reds and three whites—Hungarian varieties I hadn’t had since my last visit there in 2019.
Within a few days, a large, well-packed box showed up at my door, with detailed descriptions of each luscious wine and their regions. That special taste of Hungary, reminiscent of time spent drinking and chatting Hungarian style on friends’ terraces, only needed a FaceTime call to complete the mood until it was safe to travel again.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!