That said, when I made the train trip from Pécs (see my previous post), the Gál Pince's owner was eager to use his English as he introduced me to a meggyes or black-cherry pálinka (schnapps). I then slipped over to the Hétfogás fogadó, or "Seven-tooth Inn," for a meal, washed down with a kékfrankos or "Blue Franconian" wine, common in Central Europe.
The next stop was the Fritsch Pince (pince means "cellar" in Hungarian), where I had to struggle with my Hungarian. The owner was patient with my slightly-above-beginner Magyar language skills. I wondered, following decades of Western inculcation with the idea that "red wine is served at room temperature," why his reds were cool. Not the least bit perturbed, he responded matter-of-factly that it comes out of the cellar.
No kidding, I thought. Common-sense, but a paradigm shift for me. In years since, I've noticed that many reds at room temperature tend to "burn" a bit on the tongue. Once recently, noticing this effect, I asked the server to put the remainder of the bottle in the fridge, and after 10 minutes it was perfect. The "acidic" effect had been reigned in, and the mellower flavors could shine through.
I can't guarantee you'll have an experience like mine, but if you get off the beaten path in a town like Villány, I'm sure you'll find plenty of menus in English - even if you have to point to communicate your choice to the server.
These discoveries and other delights for the eyes and the tongue are covered in more detail in Chapter 3 of my book: "Hungary: Polysyllables, Paprika and Pálinka." I suggest you browse the slide show above - all pictures click through to Travels with Ferdinand. You'll want to order and read the entire text!
Next up: Awaiting an Awkward Centenary - Sarajevo!