Borbáth Gabriella pálinka expert

Hungarian pálinka expert Gabriella Borbáth tells everything about what makes a good pálinka, and how one should properly consume this unique Hungarian spirit that is world-famous.

Myth or reality: the health benefits of drinking pálinka

The pálinka expert

Gabriella Borbáth is a well-known Hungarian pálinka expert. Her grandfather worked as a winemaker, so she was familiarized with this ancient profession quite early, reports. She was working as a sommelier for many years when pálinka came into her life 11 years ago. She was always interested in the famous Hungarian spirit but there was no formal training at the time. She learnt a lot about pálinka autonomously. In the restaurants where she was a sommelier, she often gave advice about pálinka as well. Another pálinka expert, Gáborné Panyik was her mentor, who taught her everything she knew about the spirit: the making, the varieties, the methods, the aromas, etc. In 2012, Gabriella began her former education at Kertészeti Egyetem.

Gabriella is now a regular member of the Pálinka Nemzeti Tanács [National Pálinka Council], and she also works as a taste master for the famous Hungarian pálinka brand: Rézangyal. Moreover, she has been working as a judge at the prestigious European competition International Spirit World since 2017.

What makes an expert

According to Gabriella, identifying a good pálinka is much more about the taste, one needs to know a lot about the chemistry of its making, as well as proper fruit growing. Luckily, there is an increasing demand for premium quality pálinka in Hungary. There is a huge variety on the market, and the consumers knew a lot more about the drink than they used to.

The consumers’ taste is very different today than it was 10 years ago. This change of demand resulted in a great variety of high-quality pálinka that is available today.

Interestingly, many people regard pálinka making as a masculine profession. This is probably because the pálinka making process is quite physically demanding. However, according to Gabriella, women have a kind of sophistication that is necessary for this profession. Women tend to be more selective, have a more delicate sense of smell and taste, and they are also more conscious in their choice of pálinka. Women prefer to try pálinka that is made out of their favourite fruit. Women also tend to prefer pálinka that is lighter with a fruity smell. Based on all of these, it is not surprising that there are at least 20 female pálinka experts in Hungary, who help consumers to find the perfect pálinka for their taste.

Watch superstars try pálinka for the first time, it’s hilarious!

How to drink it

The usual way of consuming pálinka is drinking it as fast as possible, preferably with one big gulp. According to the expert, this tradition was formed most probably due to the not so great quality of pálinka that dominated the market for a long time. She says that a good pálinka is full of aromas, taste and smells, and it is a waste to simply gulp it down as fast as possible.

The best way to drink good pálinka is to sip it slowly in order to really taste it. It is best to use a tulip-shaped glass so that the different tastes all come forward. Pálinka is best served at 16-17 degrees Celsius because if it is too cold, we cannot taste or smell it well enough. You can drink it before or after meals, it does not really matter. It is not recommended to drink it with hot soup though.

Tulip-shaped glasses ( Wim Kersbergen)

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