"Wine. Bakelite. Happiness." - A talk with Tamás (Tomi) Zsandár, owner of the „Wine & Vinyl Bar & Store” in Veszprém

stories Barbara H. Kormos / Fotók: Csaba Toroczkai

The above three words greet me on the wine bar's Facebook page, but I miss yet another word: Balaton. The reason being that the owner, Tamás Zsandár, a Veszprém native, has had close ties to the lake since his childhood. Until recently, he worked in a winery there and has been a DJ for 25 years. It's not surprising therefore that the concept of Wine & Vinyl was born out of a combination of his two loves: music and wine.

It all started as a project with a friend, another DJ, to play jazz-based background music on vinyl records at wine-related events, tastings, and exhibitions. The initiative was so successful that taking the idea further was self-evident. 

I thought that it would be great to have a place where I could have both wine and records: a record shop, a wine bar and a wine shop where you could even party on weekends.

The Wine & Vinyl Bar & Store was finally created thanks to the support of the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) Street Image Programme, which aims to fill vacant stores in downtown Veszprém with content that make the city centre more valued. A former gift shop at No. 2 Szabadság tér (Freedom Square), was transformed into a restaurant and record shop. It opened in December 2021. It is currently open from 11 am to 11 pm every day except Sunday and Monday.

Entering the bar, you immediately notice that wooden furniture and the black colour of Bakelite records dominate, with two striking yellow sofas set in the shop window. As Tomi puts it, he wanted to make guests feel as if they were entering his living room, where his current favourite records are playing, and his favourite wines fill the glasses. The concept works perfectly: one does feel like walking into Tomi's or anybody else’s living room.

The selection of drinks and the wine list is not fixed, it changes constantly. Tomi says that from the moment he opened, he made sure that his favourites were always on offer. In addition to international (Chilean, Argentinian, French, German) and Balaton wines, thirty per cent of the range are natural wines, most of them available by the glass or bottle. 

I'm very fond of prosecco, so there's a good selection, but the wine card is always changing. For example, in spring, we'll have lots of rosés.

A selection of tapas is on the menu to accompany the wines.

But what about the other component in the name, Vinyl? 

There's no shortage of vinyl or Bakelite records. While there are brand new records for sale, there's also a selection of second-hand discs, so one might even pick up one that Tomi has played before at a party somewhere. He says, it increasingly seems that vinyl is no longer just a nostalgia thing for older people. Young people are more and more open to owning vinyl records: they are purposeful, they know what they want, and they buy. 

Vinyl records have become an item in high demand. I feel and see that people buy lots of records because everything comes out on vinyl, too: new music is often released in limited editions, which are snapped up so quickly that even we can't get copies.

The wine bar is also an event venue. It has hosted literary events – 'Poetry and Vinyl' and 'One Wine, One Poem', which were part of the ECoC's Holtszezon (Dead Season) events. The performances, pairing literature with music and wine, created a very special atmosphere and are a great success with the audience, so to continue is definitely in the plans.

 Since January, every second Thursday night is for wine club meetings that fill the bar and are hosted by winemakers. Tomi's plans for the immediate future include launching a wine club in cooperation with the University of Pannonia starting in April this year and periodic street closures for street parties. Wine & Vinyl also appears at the Old Town Square Market, with a Volkswagen minibus, the Musikwagen, playing background music from speakers on the top of the bus. This Sunday (27 March), the 1st Veszprém Record Fair will take place in Hangvilla, in collaboration with the ECoC, the Győr Record Fair and the Veszprém Programme Office, with the hope of not only creating a fair for visitors but building a community, through exchanges and discussions.

Whether we’ll have a party, or a Saturday night chat is up to the guests and no one else. We are open to both

- says Tomi about the music nights at the bar. Every Friday and Saturday night, there's a party with different DJs performing, and the bar fills with a dancing crowd. But don't be surprised to see couples tangoing in the shop window at 3 pm on a Saturday, as the bar often offers Argentine tango milonga for those with nimble feet.


At the end of the conversation with Tomi, I wonder if Lake Balaton were a record, what would it be?

"Right now, it would be Frank Sinatra, but if you asked me tomorrow, I'd probably say something else," he says. And it turns out that music often accompanies him to the beach; he takes his battery-powered record player along so he can enjoy the company of his favourite things: wine and vinyl records, even when he's by Lake Balaton.


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