By Sarah Sunday
When asked of the top places to go in the wonderful city in Budapest, among the sights such as the Citadella, the infamous bridges, and the many spas and bathhouses, one spot that is a must-see is the well-known and much-loved Szimpla kert ruin pub. Even as a top tourist destination, Szimpla remains a personal favorite for me and has just gained a new feature that makes it all the better – a newly built wine bar. With spring steadily approaching, it is the perfect opportunity to try the new bar, as well as their array of seasonal white wines.
Szimpla kert’s strongest feature is its lively, matchless atmosphere, and it gains its right as the most popular ruin pub in Budapest with an array of top-to-bottom wacky, unique decorations. The newly installed wine bar does not disappoint and fits right in, with walls covered in mirrors, picture frames – with and without inlayed art – and various pieces of treasure, that some might consider trash, hanging from the walls.
Although the setting is jovial and lively, even by nine o’clock on a week night, the staff often fundamentally sport the standard Hungarian attitude. They are more or less helpful in their recommendations and suggestions on wine, although I find that they do not normally tend to greet with a smile, but rather with indifferent and even slightly uncouth comments, at least to a foreigner.
Nevertheless, their suggestions are pretty spot on, and throughout the night I enjoyed a few glasses of very agreeable white wine, that made me feel very much like spring was in the air. The first glass that was recommended to me was the dry white wine Ludányi Balázs birtokbor 2013, from the region of Mátrai. This first glass was my personal favorite, as it was light, fruity, and smooth. As I sipped, I couldn’t help but want to take it outside with me for a picnic on Margitsziget.
For my second glass, I decided to try a sweet white wine, although I rarely opt for sweet wines, as dry fits my personal preference. The server at the bar recommended the Budaházy pince Szent Tamás 2012 from the Tokaj wine region. Initially, the wine was far too sweet for my taste and was a bit overwhelming; however, after a couple more sips, it became surprisingly pleasant and ended up being a delightful drink. The satisfying sweetness seemed to sparkle on my tongue and I left me thinking of summer far more than spring.
My final glass was, unfortunately, my least favorite: Kolonics pince Hárslevelűr2013, a dry white from Somló. This glass was the most expensive, but absolutely not worth the extra price. In my opinion, it was far too bitter, with a harsh and sharp bite. Overall, it was simply a rather unenjoyable glass of wine.
Nonetheless, Szimpla is officially a great spot to stop and sip on a Hungarian glass of wine, with reasonable prices for students, a glass of white wine costing anywhere between 400 and 800 forints. The ambiance is, of course, fantastic and I can vouch that the right glass of wine is just as good. If you are looking for an atmospheric spot to welcome the coming springtime with a glass of vino, keep in mind the newest addition to this classic spot.