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Szent Tamás Szamorodni

Tokaji (Hungarian : of TokajHungarian pronunciation: [ˈtokɒji] ) or Tokay is the name of the wines from the Tokaj wine region (also Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region or Tokaj-Hegyalja) in Hungary or the adjoining Tokaj wine region in Slovakia. This region is noted for its sweet wines [1] made from grapes affected by noble rot, a style of wine which has a long history in this region. The "nectar" coming from the grapes of Tokaj is also mentioned in the national anthem of Hungary.


The Slovak wine region of Tokaj may use the Tokajský/-á/-é label ("of Tokaj" in Slovak) [2] if they apply the Hungarian quality control regulation. [2] This area used to be part of the greater Tokaj-Hegyalja region within the Kingdom of Hungary, but was divided between Hungary and Czechoslovakia after the Treaty of Trianon.


A Tokaji wine cellar; 185 cellars were counted in the town of Tokaj in 1967. Tokaj cellar2.png
A Tokaji wine cellar; 185 cellars were counted in the town of Tokaj in 1967.
A Aszu 3 Puttonyos Tokaji 3 puttonyos Tokaji.jpg
A Aszú 3 Puttonyos Tokaji

Six grape varieties are officially approved for Tokaji wine production:

Furmint accounts for 60% of the area and is by far the most important grape in the production of Aszú wines. Hárslevelű stands for further 30%. Nevertheless, an impressive range of different types and styles of wines are produced in the region, ranging from dry whites to the Eszencia, the world's sweetest wine. [3]

The area where Tokaji wine is traditionally grown is a small plateau, 457 metres (1,500 ft) above sea level, near the Carpathian Mountains. The soil is of volcanic origin, with high concentrations of iron and lime. The location of the region has a unique climate, beneficial to this particular viniculture, due to the protection of the nearby mountains. Winters are bitterly cold and windy; spring tends to be cool and dry, and summers are noticeably hot. Usually, autumn brings rain early on, followed by an extended Indian summer, allowing a very long ripening period.

The Furmint grapes begin maturation with thick skins, but as they ripen the skins become thinner, and transparent. This allows the sun to penetrate the grape and evaporate much of the liquid inside, producing a higher concentration of sugar. Other types of grapes mature to the point of bursting, however, unlike most other grapes, Furmint will grow a second skin which seals it from rot. This also has the effect of concentrating the grape's natural sugars. The grapes are left on the vine long enough to develop the "noble rot" (Botrytis cinerea) mold. Grapes then are harvested, sometimes as late as December (and in the case of true Eszencia, occasionally into January). [4]

Typical yearly production in the region runs to a relatively small 100,280 hectolitres (2,649,000 US gal).[ citation needed ]

Types of Tokaji wine

The first village level dry Furmint in the Tokaji wine region MAD Furmint.jpg
The first village level dry Furmint in the Tokaji wine region

These wines, once referred to as common, ordinárium, are now named after their respective grape varieties: Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji Hárslevelű, Tokaji Sárgamuskotály and Tokaji Kövérszőlő.

A bottle of Tokaji Aszu 4 Puttonyos, vintage 1990, in a 500 mL bottle of the style that is typical for Tokaji wine. The capsule label with the colours of the Hungarian flag is also characteristic. Tokaji aszu 2007.jpg
A bottle of Tokaji Aszú 4 Puttonyos, vintage 1990, in a 500 mL bottle of the style that is typical for Tokaji wine. The capsule label with the colours of the Hungarian flag is also characteristic.
The concentration of aszú was traditionally defined by the number of puttony of dough added to a Gönc cask (136 liter barrel) of must. [6] Nowadays the puttony number is based on the content of sugar and sugar-free extract in the mature wine. Aszú ranges from 3 puttonyos to 6 puttonyos, with a further category called Aszú-Eszencia representing wines above 6 puttonyos. Unlike most other wines, alcohol content of aszú typically runs higher than 14%. Annual production of aszú is less than one percent of the region's total output.

Imperial Tokay

Prior to 1918 (the end of World War I and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), the finest eszencia Tokaji was not sold but was reserved for the Imperial cellars of the Habsburg monarchy. [8] By the mid 18th century these finest eszencia Tokaji originally held by the Habsburgs were called "Imperial Tokay". Cases, barrels, and bottles of it often passed between European monarchs as gifts. In 2008, a bottle of Imperial Tokay bearing the seal of the wine cellar of the Royal Saxon Court sold at auction at Christie's for £1,955. [9]


Tokaji has been known as the "Wine of Kings, King of Wines" since the 18th century Tokaji Aszu.JPG
Tokaji has been known as the "Wine of Kings, King of Wines" since the 18th century
A bottle of Tokaji Eszencia Eszencia 2.jpg
A bottle of Tokaji Eszencia

It is not known for how long vines have been grown on the volcanic soil of the fork of the rivers Bodrog and Hernád. This predates the settlement of the Magyar tribes to the region. [6] According to legend, the first aszú was made by Laczkó Máté Szepsi in 1630. However, mention of wine made from aszú grapes had already appeared in the Nomenklatura of Fabricius Balázs Sziksai which was completed in 1576. A recently discovered inventory of aszú predates this reference by five years.

Tokaji wine became the subject of the world's first appellation control, established several decades before Port wine, and over 120 years before the classification of Bordeaux. Vineyard classification began in 1730 with vineyards being classified into three categories depending on the soil, sun exposure and potential to develop noble rot, botrytis cinerea, first class, second class and third class wines. A royal decree in 1757 established a closed production district in Tokaj. The classification system was completed by the national censuses of 1765 and 1772.

In 1920, following the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a small part of the Tokaj wine region (approx. 1.75 km2) became part of Czechoslovakia due to the Treaty of Trianon, while the rest remained part of Hungary. After World War II, when Hungary became a Soviet-influenced state, Tokaji production continued with as many as 6,000 small producers, but the bottling and distribution were monopolized by the state-owned organization. Since the collapse of the communist regimes in 1990, a number of independent wineries have been established in the Tokaj wine region. A state-owned producer continues to exist and handles approximately 20% of the overall production.

Famous consumers of Tokaji

Voivode Stephen the Great of Moldavia was said to be a very big fan of Tokay wines. He introduced to Moldavia the Kövérszőlő cultivar, that lead to the development of Grasă de Cotnari wine. [10]

King Louis XV of France LouisXV-Rigaud1.jpg
King Louis XV of France

Tokaji has since the 18th century been known as "Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum" ("Wine of Kings, King of Wines"), [11] an epithet sometimes attributed to King Louis XIV of France. In 1703, Francis Rákóczi II, Prince of Transylvania, gave Louis XIV some Tokaji wine from his Tokaj estate as a gift. The Tokaji wine was served at the French Royal court at Versailles, where it became known as Tokay.

Emperor Franz Josef (who was also King of Hungary) had a tradition of sending Queen Victoria Tokaji Aszú wine, as a gift, every year on her birthday, one bottle for every month she had lived, twelve for each year. On her eighty-first and final birthday (1900), this totaled an impressive 972 bottles.

Tokaji wine has received accolades from numerous great writers and composers including Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Friedrich von Schiller, Bram Stoker, Johann Strauss II, and Voltaire. The composer Joseph Haydn's favorite wine was Tokaji. Besides Louis XIV, several other European monarchs are known to have been keen consumers of the wine. Louis XV and Frederick the Great tried to outdo one another when they treated guests such as Voltaire with Tokaji. Napoleon III, the last Emperor of the French, ordered 3040 barrels of Tokaji at the French Royal Court every year. Pope Pius IV (1499–1565) at the Council of Trent in 1562, exclaimed: Summum pontificem talia vina decent! (This is the type of wine that should be on the papal table.) Gustav III, King of Sweden, loved Tokaji – it has been said he never had any other wine to drink. In Russia, customers included Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth of Russia. A newspaper account of the 1933 wedding of Polish president Ignacy Mościcki notes that toasts were made with 250-year-old wines, and goes on to say "The wine, if good, could only have been Essence of Tokay, and the centuries-old friendship between Poland and Hungary would seem to support this conclusion." [12]

Grand Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn of Lubavitch was known to drink Kosher Tokaji wines on celebratory occasions, such as on completion of his famous series of discourses titled "Vekocho" in the year 1878. [13]

Other uses of the Tokaji appellation

Tokaji wines have been famous for a long time, which has resulted in their name being "adopted" by other wines:

Bottles of Slovak (left) and Hungarian Aszu wines Bottles of Tokaji Aszu.JPG
Bottles of Slovak (left) and Hungarian Aszú wines
A bottle of Tokaji Aszu 3 Puttonyos Tokaji KF.jpg
A bottle of Tokaji Aszú 3 Puttonyos

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dessert wine</span> Sweet wine typically served with dessert

Dessert wines, sometimes called pudding wines in the United Kingdom, are sweet wines typically served with dessert.

Tokay may refer to:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Noble rot</span> Grey fungus affecting wine grapes

Noble rot is the beneficial form of a grey fungus, Botrytis cinerea, affecting wine grapes. Infestation by Botrytis requires moist conditions, but if the weather stays wet, the damaging form, "grey rot", can destroy crops of grapes. Grapes typically become infected with Botrytis when they are ripe. If they are then exposed to drier conditions and become partially raisined, this form of infection is known as noble rot. Grapes picked at a certain point during infestation can produce particularly fine and concentrated sweet wine. Wines produced by this method are known as botrytized wines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Furmint</span> Variety of grape

Furmint is a white Hungarian wine grape variety that is most noted widely grown in the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region where it is used to produce single-varietal dry wines as well as being the principal grape in the better known Tokaji dessert wines. It is also grown in the tiny Hungarian wine region of Somló. Furmint plays a similar role in the Slovakian wine region of Tokaj. It is also grown in Austria where it is known as Mosler. Smaller plantings are found in Slovenia where it is known as Šipon. The grape is also planted in Croatia & Serbia, where it is known as Moslavac. It is also found in Romania and in former republics of the Soviet Union. Furmint is a late ripening variety. For dry wines the harvest starts usually in September, however sweet wine specific harvest can start in the second half of October or even later, and is often affected by Botrytis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Late harvest wine</span> Variety of wine

Late harvest wine is wine made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual. Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet dessert wine, such as late harvest Riesling. Late harvest grapes are often more similar to raisins, but have been naturally dehydrated while on the vine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tokaj</span> Town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hungary

Tokaj is a historical town in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, Northern Hungary, 54 kilometers from county capital Miskolc. It is the centre of the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine district where Tokaji wine is produced.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tokaj (Slovakia)</span>

Tokaj wine region is a wine-growing region located in south-eastern Slovakia and north-eastern Hungary. The two vine-growing areas were once part of the greater Tokaj wine region of the Kingdom of Hungary. Following the Treaty of Trianon, a smaller part became part of Czechoslovakia, and after 1993, Slovakia. The majority of the region remained part of Hungary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hárslevelű</span> Variety of grape

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Hungarian wine has a history dating back to the Kingdom of Hungary. Outside Hungary, the best-known wines are the white dessert wine Tokaji aszú and the red wine Bull's Blood of Eger.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tokaj wine region</span> UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tokaj, Hungary

Tokaj wine region or Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region is a historical wine region located in northeastern Hungary and southeastern Slovakia. It is also one of the seven larger wine regions of Hungary. Hegyalja means "foothills" in Hungarian, and this was the original name of the region.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muscadelle</span> White wine grape variety

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grasă de Cotnari</span> Wine

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tarcal</span> Place in Northern Hungary, Hungary

Tarcal is a village on the eastern edge of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, northern Hungary, in the famous Tokaj-Hegyalja wine district, 55 km (34 mi) from Miskolc.

Ausbruch or sometimes Ausbruchwein is an Austrian wine term for a quality level in the Prädikatswein category. It is situated between Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese in requirements, which makes it a sweet dessert wine typically made from grapes affected by noble rot. The minimum must weight requirements for Ausbruch is 30 degrees KMW. The Ausbruch Prädikat exists only in Austria and Hungary, not in Germany. The category was introduced into Austrian wine legislation in 1970, as a legalization of the production method allegedly already used in the area of Rust. Ruster Ausbruch are still the most common Ausbruch wines to encounter; in many other Austrian regions, producers classify their wines as Beerenauslese if they fall short of the Trockenbeerenauslese requirements. Since October 2020, the Ruster Ausbruch is legally protected by the Austrian DAC system of origins as "Ruster Ausbruch DAC".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Slovak wine</span> Wine making in Slovakia

Slovak wine is produced in the southern part of Slovakia, which is divided into 6 wine-producing areas. Although Slovak wines except Tokaj are not well-known internationally, they are popular domestically and in neighbouring countries. The best wines are produced by medium-sized wineries with their own vineyards, with white wine production being most dominant, including the full range of historic sweet wines - ice wine, straw wine, and botrytized wine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Puttonyos</span>

Puttonyos is a unit for the level of sugar in Hungarian Tokaji and Slovak Tokaj dessert wine. It is traditionally measured by the number of hods of sweet botrytised or nobly rotted grapes added to a barrel of wine, but is now measured in grams of residual sugar. The puttony was actually the 25 kg basket or hod of Aszú grapes, and the more added to the barrel of wine, the sweeter the eventual wine. Measurement ranges from 3 to 6 Puttonyos. A Tokaji made entirely from Aszú grapes is not labeled using the Puttonyos system but is known as Eszencia.


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  5. “A rich, sweet, moderately strong wine of a topaz color, produced in the vicinity of Tokay, in Hungary; also, a similar wine produced elsewhere.” Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language (Springfield, Mass.: G.&C. Merriam, 1913). See Tokay at p. 2166.
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  7. "Sweet Wines 101 - Wine Basics - Learn Wine - Wine Spectator" . Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  8. Chambers's Encyclopaedia, Volume 13. Oxford University Press. 1950. p. 667. The wine not only retains its sweet taste without any brandy being added to it to check the fermentation, but it goes on improving for many years, longer by far than any other unfortified wine. This, however, only applies to the best wine of Tokay (Tokaj), Tokay Essencia. Before 1918 the finest Tokay Essencia was never sold but reserved for the Imperial cellars of the Habsburgs; hence its name of Imperial Tokay. Next in order of excellence come the Tokay Aszu, also called Tokay Ausbruch and the Tokay Szamorodner.
  9. "Imperial Tokay--Mid-Eighteenth Century". Christie's . 11 December 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  10. "VITICULTURĂ ROMÂNEASCĂ: Grasă de Cotnari, soiul adus de Ștefan cel Mare (1457-1504) din Transilvania – AGERPRES". Archived from the original on 31 December 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
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  12. "Tokaj Wine Region". Discover Slovakia with Branio and his team. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  13. Diary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlito [Reshimas Hayoman p. 358, Hemshech 5666 p. 747].
  14. "Alsace Tokay Pinot Gris Wine". Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  15. "European Commission - PRESS RELEASES - Press release - The Court of Justice declares that the listing of the Slovak wine name 'Vinohradnícka oblasť Tokaj' in the E-Bacchus register of protected designations of origin does not constitute an actionable measure". Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  16. "Rutherglen: What is Topaque?" . Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  17. "Tokaji wine Transcarpathia Ukraina - Sök på Google". Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  18. Project Gutenberg e-book: Accessed on 10 September 2021.
  19. Arthur Conan Doyle, "His Last Bow". Project Gutenberg e-book: Accessed 1 February 2016.

Further reading