Of all the wonderful things Hungary is known for, wine isn’t often the first which comes to mind. However the central European country is a hidden gem when it comes to finding excellent vineyards. One of my favourite things to do on a trip to Budapest is seek out a wine tasting event and embark on a metaphorical journey around Hungary’s wine regions! The full bodied ‘Egri Bikáver’, or Bull’s Blood, is one of the country’s most well known wines on the international stage – but today, I wanted to take a look at the regal Tokaji dessert wine.
Hailing from the vineyards of the Tokaj wine region, which lies on Hungary’s border with Slovakia, Tokaji wine comes in a number of forms. There’s the Tokaji Furmint, a dry white wine; the Tokaji Eszencia, or ‘nectar’, whose high sugar content means it’s commonly drunk in the smallest of quantities; and the world famous Tokaji Aszu, a sweet dessert wine with a regal reputation. It is the latter two which are the focus of today’s blog post.
This brilliantly informative article by Wine Folly (http://winefolly.com/review/the-story-of-tokaji-wine/) goes into a little more detail, but in short, these two varieties of wine are made using Aszu grapes. The number of “puttonyos” traditionally referred to the amount of Aszu grapes used, with 3 being the fewest and 6 the most. Tokaji Eszencia is made exclusively from Aszu grapes; Tokaji Aszu can be ranked between 3 – 6 puttonyos, with 6 being the sweetest. It is also worth noting that Hungary recently did away with puttonyos grades 3 and 4, so it is best to look for a Tokaji with at least 5 puttonyos for a higher quality.
Tokaji (in particular, the sweet Eszencia) is known as the wine of royalty in Hungary – there are those who call it the “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”. This nickname isn’t without reason – King Louis XIV of France, Queen Victoria, and Emperor Franz Josef were all said to be fans of Tokaji in its various forms. Tokaji is most commonly drunk as a dessert wine and makes for a wonderful way to round off a meal – particularly when served in unique glassware.
Tokaji Dessert Wine, In Fern Glasses by Emma Mackintosh
Taking inspiration from both the surrounding landscapes of the Lake District and the idea of a royal court in centuries gone by, the above glasses feature a fern texture and traditional stem. Hand crafted with help from local ferns collected from a nearby forest, each glass is completely unique and suitable for a range of dessert wines or liquors.
Thanks to its international reputation, Tokaji is available from good wine stores across the UK – and I highly recommend giving it a try. In the meantime, should you want a one-of-a-kind, handmade, artisan dessert wine glass from which to drink the nectar of royalty, please drop me an email. All glasses are custom made to order in the English Lake District.