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Imre Rácz, Head Sommelier of Spago Budapest, wins Sommelier of the Year Award in the Michelin Guide Hungary 2023

21 September 2023

The team at Spago Budapest, located in Matild Palace, has received a huge honor as - in addition to retaining its Michelin recommendation - this year Imre Rácz, the restaurant's Head Sommelier, has been awarded Sommelier of the Year in the Michelin Guide Hungary 2023, for his unrivalled passionate dedication and outstanding knowledge of exclusive wines.

    The title of Sommelier of the Year is not only a recognition of Imre Rácz's career to date, but also of his sincere commitment to offering his guests a true gastronomic experience every day. The sommelier, who has extensive international experience and has worked in some of the most prestigious venues in the Hungarian hospitality industry, has been in the business for nearly a decade. He started his career in the United States, then continued in Germany, and in Hungary he gained professional experience as Head Sommelier at MÁK and Essencia restaurants, while also obtaining his ASI Sommelier Diploma in 2018.

    He joined Spago Budapest in September 2021. As a prominent representative of the Hungarian gastronomy and wine world, his expertise and dedication ensure an excellent wine experience for the guests, while providing unique stories and explanations of the wines on offer.

    "It's a great pleasure and recognition to have been honored with the Michelin Sommelier Award this year, which confirms that the attitude I bring to my work every day is appreciated by my guests. I am particularly pleased that this is an international award, as I am guided by the most qualified professionals in the world. I strive for continuous improvement and professional credibility, which I hope will inspire others. I think it is important to be able to think as a team and to adapt to the needs of the guests in the given situations," said Imre Rácz on the occasion of the award.

    Spago Budapest is very proud to offer a wine selection that presents the best of Hungarian and international wines to its guests, under the guidance of Imre Rácz. The wide range of wines allows those interested in gastronomy to discover the treasures of different wine regions and grape varieties, while Imre Rácz Head Sommelier and Máté Horváth, Wine Director of Matild Palace, are always ready to offer personalised advice to help them make the right choice. Their mission is to bring the best possible wine to the guests' glasses, enhancing the intense gastronomic experience of the Spago Budapest courses, based on Wolfgang Puck's gastronomic concept. Behind the harmonious flavors of the dishes and the wines they are paired with is a team that works in perfect harmony, with the chef tasting the wines and the sommelier tasting the dishes. The final wine and food pairing, which has already earned the restaurant a Michelin recommendation, is the result of the fine-tuning process.

    "We are extremely proud that Spago Budapest has earned a Michelin recommendation every single year since it opened. This is due to the expertise of the excellent professionals who work for us, so it is a particular reward when our colleagues receive individual, professional accolades, cementing not only their own integrity but also the reputation of our hotel and restaurants." - Selim Ölmez, General Manager of Matild Palace, Luxury Collection Hotel, Budapest, commented on the award.

    "It is important for us to keep our international and domestic wine selection exciting and constantly renewed. Spago's wine selection is not only influenced by us, but also by our guests, as we pay a lot of attention to what they like best and we always have a selection of these on hand. The selection of Californian and Austrian wines is also a special part of our wine list, because being part of the international Spago group, these must always be available to the regulars," adds Imre Rácz.

    Currently, the number of wines on offer in the restaurant is well over 200, including popular, unmissable items that a five-star hotel restaurant can't do without, and some that are only called " self-expression " by sommeliers, these are the wines that have impressed the professionals during a tasting and have thus been included in the offer. So, more often than not, the restaurant holds wines from smaller cellars, a few hundred bottles.  Of course, there are some special items that are not featured on the wine list, but can only be found on the personal recommendation of the sommelier. These are rarities set aside from selected vintages, the sale of which is only referred to as "starburst" by the sommeliers themselves.  The most recent such item was a Tuscan red wine which sold for more than 900 000 Ft a bottle.

    Objectivity is essential to Imre Rácz in his work, but of course he also has his personal favorite items. The Riesling is an eternal love, but among the wines of Somló, the Hárslevelű and the Juhfark also hold a special place in his heart.

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