World HungaryFabok Mihály,
Does your wine culture stem from your family origins or a coincidence?
It comes from my grandfather in fact. When I was about five or six he owned a small vineyard located 35 km south east of Budapest and made Siller, a typically Hungarian wine. Then when I was eight, my faith in wine was influenced by the fact that I was an altar boy and assisted our parish priest.
After my studies at hotel school, I joined the restaurant team at Taverna in Budapest, at the Sommelier school. I passed my diploma in 1996.
Is being a sommelier a genuine vocation for you?
Yes, it is and it’s very exciting because the wine world is constantly evolving.
In which competition have you recently taken part?
I’ve just come back from competing in the European Cup (34 countries), which was held in Reims and Paris in June this year. Afterwards I’d like to participate in the forthcoming world competition next year in Spain.
Tell us about your current Sommelier position in Hungary.
Previously, I worked for three years on a luxury cruise ship in the Caribbean. At present I’m Chef Sommelier at the Gundel Restaurant in Budapest and I’ve been here for the past few years.
Does Hungarian gastronomy offer diverse possibilities for creating food and wine combinations?
Yes, of course, Hungarian gastronomy is vast and wide-ranging; it allows many matches to be made with the tremendous variety of Hungarian wines.
Is acknowledgement for the Sommelier profession in the restaurant sector a new phenomenon?
Yes, things have certainly changed over the past ten years with an awareness of a new style of winegrowing in Hungary, the arrival of foreign wines in our country and an important development of the great tradition of Hungarian wines.
Hungary is one of the rare countries to have re-established former native grape varieties that possess tremendously typical organoleptic characteristics. What do you think about this?
These developments, as well as the presence of worldwide varieties, give Hungary its true identity, enabling it to produce characteristic wines that convey an expression of diversity and harmony.
In your opinion, what is the finest Hungarian wine?
I have so many favourites, but for me the best wine is the one my guests enjoy the most.
What are your favourite grape varieties?
Kadarka and Kéknyelü, for white.
Currently, with the huge diversity of wines on sale, are Sommeliers’ recommendations and opinions important to consumers and buyers?
Yes, absolutely. Since the Sommelier is the ultimate link between producers and consumers, his comments and suggestions are extremely important to help buyers select wines that offer great value for money, or help them find the best producers in specific areas of appellation of origin and the finest vintages.