Hungarian Museum of Wine
Photo courtesy of Lebanoncedars
On one of my trips to visit family in Hungary, I had made the pleasant discovery that my second cousin worked for a travel agency. During one of the trips into her office, I happened upon a brochure for the Hungarian Museum of Wine. With great interest, I took a copy and was determined to visit this venue on my last day of the trip. On that final day, I grabbed my brother, sent my wife shopping, and set out on foot to find this museum.
It took a good couple of hours to find the place. Every time I asked for directions I was told (in German) either, "I don't know where it is" or given a rather dirty look. Undaunted, and with the spirit of intrepid explorers, we forged ahead until we finally found the place.
The museum was in a rather impressive old world building and clearly marked. It was also located within 20 feet of a Hilton hotel. I could not understand how hard it was to get directions or advice on the place.
We entered the building and were greeted by a vast open reception room. The room was huge and completely empty except for a small glass counter situated in the room's center. To the right of the counter was a sign saying that the admission charge was 2000 forent (around $12). Behind the counter was a rather small Hungarian women.
Since my brother only knew English, I did all of the talking. In German, I said "Hello, I am here to visit your museum. Would you happen to have any tours in English for my brother?" With a puzzled look the woman said, "No sir, we do not have any tours here."
Taking another stab at it I asked the woman if there were any German or English write-ups on the museum's displays. Puzzled and now holding back a chuckle, the woman replied "Sir, we have no displays here."
Curious, I asked the woman what the admission charge was for. Smiling, the woman reached behind the counter and pulled out an empty, clean, wineglass. "If you take this down those set of stairs, there are 750 varieties of wine for your to taste...self-serve!"
The speed at which we had our money on that counter still amazes me.
It was astounding! The cellar consisted of 750 separate racks of wine. A small shelf at the top had an open bottle. The idea was that you sipped the wine, and if you liked it, you could simply yank a bottle out of the rack and purchase it on the way out. For convenience, bottle carriers were stacked at the entrance to the cellar. WHY HAS NOBODY THOUGHT OF THIS IN THE USA? I am sure that there are legal reasons, but what a great set up!
We spend hours tasting all of the great Hungarians. We ran across a couple of Frenchmen very carefully sipping wine and then taking notes. Just to be a good American, I lectured them on how they were not tasting wine properly. I had to show them. I took a bottle, unceremoniously dumped some wine into my glass, slammed it down, exhaled loudly, and remarked, "I give that one a 7.5!" In horror, the Frenchmen took on a look of total disgust, and trudged off.
After a while, we needed to either leave of sleep there. Upon exiting the place, I noticed just how hard it was to keep my head steady or even focus. Luckily, I remembered that my wife had placed the hotel card in my shirt pocket. Hailing a cab, I simply handed the driver the card and headed out.
On the way to the hotel, I took a moment to tally up the day. Explored a foreign city, tried 750 varieties of wine, pissed off some Frenchmen, and made it home safely. All in all, a good day.
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