Hungary: Different types of Sweet Wine

Hungary has a history of being a top quality wine producing country. Back in the 1700s the elite and royals enjoyed the sweet wine; Tokaji Aszú. Hungary was since then been set back by communism, but the quality of the sweet wines remained. The country is experiencing a revival with many great white and red wines of fantastic quality, yet the famous sweet wines are both unique and indeed enjoyable.

Noble rot also known as botrytis, is what makes the wines so special. It is a fungi which shivels the grapes, allowing concentration of the aroma, sugars and acidity.

Late Harvest. The less sweet of the sweet wines. It includes bunches of ripe, over-ripe and botrytised grapes. It is light, fresh and fruity with notes of the Tokaji Aszú from the few botrytised berries. Usually aged a few months before released. It’s the less expensive and less complex style.

Szamorodni. Means ‘as it comes’. So basically the late harvested bunches of grapes are pressed as they come. Some affected by botrytis, some not. It is less sweet than the Aszú (50g/liter) and comes with the freshness of a dry wine due to the non-botrytised grapes. It is aged 2 years before released to market, at least 1 year in barrels. A great gateway to Tokaji Aszú if you are new to this style.

Tokaji Aszú. The king of sweet wine. The harvest begins in October once the noble rot has set in. All grapes for Aszú production are handpicked individually, which makes it a very labour intensive process. The grapes are then macerated for 60hours before pressed. The wines are aged in oak barrels underground until released for sale. Tokaji Aszú is ranked by sweetness; 5 puttonyos and 6 puttonyos. It refers to the number of baskets that had to be used back in the days. The more grapes used, the sweeter and the higher quality wine is made. Due to the sugar and acidity, Aszú wines have a long ageing potential (and investment potential). Enjoy it as a dessert wine or pair it with blue cheese, foie gras or pecking duck.

Fordítas. Made by second press the grapes used for Tokaji Aszú. So the Aszú paste is re-used (it still contains plenty of sugars) and new juice is added. It is less complex than Szamorodni and Aszú, yet plenty of flavour and tannins.

Eszencia. A very rare and incredibly sweet wine. Super concentrated with less than 3% alcohol, Eszencia is more of a syrup served in a small spoon. A winery may produce a couple of bottles a season. We can help source this type of wine, if of interest. The wine has an ageing potential of +200 years. Expect to spend at least €350 per bottle.

On theCoWine platform you can currently source the beautiful wines directly from Tokaj from a few wineries, at the best prices possible;
Kvaszinger Winery
Erzsébet Cellars
Zsirai Winery

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