收縮腐朽的葡萄才可造出貴腐酒。 Only shrunk grapes can produce Tokaji wine.
Tokaji wine seems to be gaining popularity among wine connoisseurs recently, at least among the ones I met in a few different tasting events. Perhaps dessert wine makes a nice break from too much liquor. Particularly, when it is paired with foie gras or caviar, its sweetness is nicely balanced and fragrance emphasized. No wonder,allegedly, Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva drank made it their last drink before killing themselves.
Tokaji wine is a result of coincidence. As the Turkish army edged close to the Tokaj wine region in Hungary in 1650, the farmers left their grapes and escaped. They did not return until early November, when the weather had become cooler and grapes shrunk. They found a thin layer of white mold on the grapes, but had no choice so just use them to make wine. Surprisingly, the resulting drink tasted exceptionally rich.Nowadays, Tokaj has been named a UNESCO heritage site to celebrate its unique land-use culture. Wine produced there is often compared to those produced in the Sauternais region in Bordeaux, France.
In the early 18th century, King Louis XVI received some Tokaji wines as present. He liked it so much that he called it the “King of Wines and the Wine of Kings”. The wine was then served regularly in the French Royal court at Versailles. When Tokaji wine reached the Russian Imperial Court, Peter the Great and Empress Elizabeth, and Catherine the Great became great consumers of the wine. Catherine the Great even established a Russian garrison in the town of Tokaj to assure regular wine delivers to St. Petersburg. Popularity spread across European noble families, musicians and poets.
The fungus responsible for the white mold is called noble rot. As the grapes shrink, the sugar content becomes more concentrated and fragrance more honey-like. Of all grapes, it only happens to sémillon, furmint and sauvignon blanc, making production only possible in a few regions and prices high. When Tokaji wine is first ready, it is golden in color, but as it ages, it becomes brownish yellow, and then amber.
Apart from the aromas of honey, apricot, peach and lemon, the mold brings a hint of dried citrus skin to the wine. Although the sugar content is high, Tokaji wine does not taste overwhelmingly sweet, as it is at the same time quite acidic. The wine is aged in barrels, and the palate is complex and rich.
The most common pairing food is foie gras, blue cheese and a few types of nuts. Also goes very well with Sichuan, Hunan and Thai cuisines, as the sweetness, fruitiness and acidity beautifully balances the spiciness. Dark chocolate and coffee are to be avoided as they would mask the rich flavors of Takaji wine. Light desserts are great though.