A Lidl Adventure in Hungary

The current wine cellar collection in UK Lidl stores features 15 Hungarian wines ranging from familiar grapes like Pinot Noir to obscure local varieties like Zenit and of course including Tokaji in multiple guises including sparkling, dry and sweet late-harvest wines. Customers have responded well: this is Lidl’s most successful cellar to date with Dereszla’s Dry Furmint selling particularly well. This suggests to me that consumers are much more open to Hungarian wines than the trade likes to think (still often classing former Eastern Europe countries in the “too difficult” category).

This is the third cellar collection to include Hungarian wine (with the biggest proportion of Hungarian wine to date) and came about through the idea of tapping into the buying strengths of other countries in the Lidl group. Lidl trades in 28 countries and has around 10,000 stores across Europe and each country will adapt its range to suit local market demands. It may also have been politically useful for Lidl Hungary to promote Hungarian products internationally (and wine is one of Hungary’s strongest potential exports) and so the idea of a showcase event was born for other countries interested in coming to taste what was on offer from Hungary.

I was the obvious choice (disclosure: I work as a part-time consultant to Lidl) to guide the buying team through the complexities of Hungarian grapes, wine regions and styles though the final wine choices rest with the buyers. For me, it has been great to see customers and press responding well to such a varied range of Hungarian wine on sale in the UK.

Some personal highlights include the summery Kékfrankos-based red Indian Nyár from the wonderful Janos Bolyki, superb Sauvignon Blanc by anyone’s standards from Haraszthy, gorgeous, scented Gewurztraminer from Antinori-owned Tűzkő, fabulous Furmints (dry, sweet and sparkling) from Dereszla, zesty Zenit from Tornai in Somló and many more wines worth trying.

You will have to be quick though as these are parcel purchases, and only in store while stocks last, though there will be more from Hungary next year.