Description 1 of 2

Tokaj is the prized sweet wine of Hungary, produced in the northeast Tokaj-Hegyalja region, at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Wine has been produced in the region for centuries, dating back to the Roman era when the land was known as Pannonia. However, it was not a sweet wine until the 1630s. 

With the Ottoman invasions, many of the glorious vineyards that had been cultivated by Hungarian royal decree were left to rot because of strict Muslim law forbidding alcohol consumption. Some wine was still being produced, but always under fear of attack. Legend has it that a local wine-maker was forced to abandon his harvest fearing one such raid, and upon return, found his grapes had developed what became known as Botrytis cinerea, or “noble rot.” He shrugged his shoulders and made the wine anyway, yielding spectacular results no one had imagined. With this serendipitous viticultural discovery, the wine known as Tokaj Aszu, which many consider among the world’s finest, was born. By the end of the 17th century (and the end of Ottoman rule), the wine became such an international success that Hungarian Prince Rakoczi was compelled to classify the vineyard sites. Also under this “vine law,” rules were established for vine training, irrigation techniques, and cultivation practices. 
 
After World War I, as per the Treaty of Trianon, a small part of Tokaj was sectioned to Slovakia’s southeast corner. Since then, the two nations have been fighting over the legal rights to the name, particularly after 1990 and the fall of Communism. Around 2004 the name Tokaj became a legally protected name for the wines made on the Hungarian side. Even the Italian grape name Tocai, which has nothing at all to do with the Hungarian wine, is now known as Tocai-Friulano. 
 
Tokaj is produced from three grapes, known collectively as the Aszu when dried: Furmint, Hárslevelű, and Muscat Blanc. Furmint is the dominant grape in the blend, contributing the acidity for balance and longevity (like apricots), while the other two contribute to the sweet and aromatic profile. These are left on the vine until most have shriveled and developed Botrytis, becoming honeyed with concentrated flavors and aromatics. The wine is produced in varying degrees of sweetness from the grapes’ residual sugars. The word “puttonyos” is used to declare the level of concentration from 3 to 6. Each level ascends 5 grams per liter or residual sugar. 
 
Essencia is the label term referring the the sweetest Tokaj, produced from free-run juice from the dried grapes, though the speed at which it comes out is more like squeezing honey, thick and viscous, and in very small quantities. Sauternes has its Chateau d’Yquem, and Essencia is Hungary’s equivalent, fetching some of the most expensive prices in the world. ~Amanda Schuster
– Description from Amanda Schuster

Back to top

Description 2 of 2

The Tokaji wine region in Hungary has has a rich history having produced wine for over 1000 years. It is most reknown for its dessert wines, which were a favorite of Napoleon who described it as the Nectar of the Gods. Furmint is the most common grape variety, in addition to being the principle variety in the famous Tokaji dessert wines it is also used to produce a dry single varietal.

Back to top

« Back to Tokaj Overview




View larger map



Best Wine Deals

See More Deals »

Recent Forum PostsView all


Tokaj wine ratings and reviews






Snooth Media Network