There is evidence indicating the Roman’s may have introduced wine to the region around the 3rd century; however, there is no historical record referencing wine in the Tokaj region until the 12th century.
It is believed that Tokaji Aszú wine was discovered in the 17th century when harvesters were forced to abandon their vineyards in order to fight the invading Turks. By the time the men returned to the vineyards in November, the grapes had withered on the vine. Presumed by many to have rotted, Mate Szepsi Laczko, a local priest, ordered that the grapes be picked anyway. To everyone’s amazement, a liquid trickled down from the heap of grapes and Tokaji Aszú was born.
Tokaji wine became an increasingly important commodity for the region with its export being a major source of revenue to help fund the wars of independence fought against Austrian Habsburg rule.
Loved by royalty across Europe, Louis XIV of France referred to the sweet, topaz-colored wine as the, Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum “Wine of Kings, King of Wines,” a line that is still used in the marketing of Tokaji wines today.
Hungary has a historical passion for the spa culture and there are approximately 1500 natural thermal springs throughout the country. Once sought out for medical properties, thermal baths are now a place for locals to gather as they take in their daily or weekly relaxation or health routines.
Hungarians are passionate about their soups, stuffed pancakes and desserts with distinctive variations depending on the region. Hungarian cuisine is often identified by the smoky essence of paprika, a heavy influence of pork and crisp dill and pickled cabbage.
The region is noted for its long, warm autumns and mists from the River Bodrog, which create the perfect conditions for noble rot and Aszú wines. Noble rot is a form of fungus affecting wine grapes under moist conditions. The grapes attacked by noble rot are separated out by hand and crushed into a paste. Varying amounts of the paste are then added to wine made from healthy grapes and left to ferment. The resulting wine is then aged in casks, usually for several years.
In addition to producing sweet Aszú wines, the region is known for producing fantastic crisp, dry white wines.
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