Tokay - Tokaji 5 puttonyós
Originally uploaded by rayparnova.
For a while now I have been a member of a wine club at my friend's store, Just Grapes. The particular club that I have joined means that every month, I receive one red wine and one white wine produced from grape varietals that are not particularly well-known. I don't know much about wine anyway, but I figured this club was one way I could learn some more interesting facts that would make me devastatingly attractive at dinner parties.
To thank me for my patronage, the store owners gave me 2 tickets to a wine class that they conducted last night that introduced me to a wine region I'd never ever heard of. It's called TOKAJI which is pronounced "tow-kai" and is the wine region in the north-eastern corner of Hungary.
The wines from that part of the world are terribly sweet and I'm not usually a fan of dessert wines. But I was so intrigued by the fact I knew nothing about the region or the wines, that I had to go along. So I dragged my friend P with me (who is fortunately still talking to me after helping me move apartments). We had a wonderful time.
One of the fun facts to know about Tokaji is that its sweetness comes from dried berries called aszu that are infected by botrytis. So unlike other dessert wines, whose sweetness is determined by fermentation or the length of time that the grapes are allowed to rot, Tokaji is sweetened through the addition of berries into white wine grapes. There are no delay tactics involved. The aszu berries are put into wooden barrels called putonyos that the pickers wear on their backs as they walk through the vineyards. The sweetness of each vintage is determined by the number of putonyos of aszu berries that are put into each barrel, from 1 (less sweet) up to 6 (so sweet your teeth nearly fall out).
I found the class to be so interesting, that I really want to go to Hungary now and just sit under a tree and enjoy a couple of glasses of the caramelly, syrupy goodness. The instructor shared another interesting fact with us, namely that it is illegal to put Tokaji into bottles any bigger than 500ml. So apparently it's possible to drink a full bottle in under 20 minutes - or at least that's what the teacher said!