Olaszrizling: Hungary’s Beloved Everyday Grape

In Hungary, there’s a grape variety that has woven itself into the fabric of everyday life. Olaszrizling, known internationally as Welschriesling, is one of Hungary’s most widely planted white grape varieties, loved for its versatility and the approachability of its wines.

Despite its name’s reference to Riesling, it is not a relative of the famous Riesling variety. “Olasz” translates to “Italian” in Hungarian, and both Italian and Welsh were synonyms for something that was foreign or had a distant origin.

Olaszrizling found its way to Hungary from France in the 19th century, a journey that would forever alter the Hungarian wine landscape. Its spread was prompted by the devastation wrought by the phylloxera epidemic, which led to the need to replant vineyards. Since then, it has firmly established itself, and you can now find Olaszrizling vineyards across the entire country.

Hungary’s diverse terroir has provided Olaszrizling with a multitude of homes, but it thrives in some regions more than others. The volcanic soils of Badacsony, the sun-kissed slopes of Szent György-hegy, and the shores of Lake Balaton, in general, have become its strongholds. Yet, it’s not limited to the Lake Balaton area; Olaszrizling has ventured into regions like Somló and even red wine territories like Eger and Villány.

Flavor profile

Olaszrizling, known for its easygoing nature, has a relatively neutral flavor profile. It’s the canvas upon which winemakers craft their art, showcasing notes of almonds, herbs, and apricots. Often enjoyed in its youth, Olaszrizling yields simple, fresh wines that are perfect for everyday sipping. Its fresh, crisp and dry style also make it a popular choice for Fröccs, Hungary’s popular wine spritzer.

Yet, beneath its unassuming exterior lies a hidden complexity. With dedicated care and attention, Olaszrizling transforms into a more elegant and compley wine, offering subtle herbal nuances that add depth to the experience.

Olaszrizling, a variety that has found its way into the hearts of Hungarian wine enthusiasts, represents both the simplicity and sophistication of the nation’s winemaking heritage. Whether it’s a casual sip or a refined creation, Olaszrizling embodies the essence of Hungarian wine, making it an ideal companion for every occasion.