How Hungary produced the “World’s most expensive wine”

While many choose Hungary for its budget travel opportunities, Hungary has earned a title if the country with the world’s most expensive wine. With nearly 100 varieties and 22 wine regions, one of the most established wine vocabulary and industry flourishing since the 16th century, Hungary is now known not only for its Kékfrankos, but also as one of the most luxurious wine producers.

The Essencia 2008 magnum decanter was certainly the world’s most expensive wine put up for sale in 2019. But how did Hungary come to be a country of wines?

The Rich History of Winemaking in Hungary

Hungary is a wine country. The rich history of Hungarian wine can be traced back to the Roman origins. Not only they are famous for Roman temples of Ridicule; they also had a very varied food and dining culture, later reflected in countries which were once of Roman influence.

Food and dining in Roman Empire, or simply the ancient Roman cuisine was full of traditions, partially arrived from the ancient Rome’s earliest times, and inherited from Greeks and Etruscans, whose Symposium was for most part a drinking party – drinking wines. From vin ordinaire to regional varieties in Roman comissatio, the wine culture was brought to its regions, Hungarian and Magyar lands as well.

Throughout history, Hungarian wine making saw its golden ages as well as dark times, and only in recent years the Hungarian winemaking is again on rise.

The Celts inhibiting Hungary during the third century BC brought the viticulture to the land. Later, Hungary’s terroir, composed of multiple microclimates, allowed the industry to flourish, and after Magyar invasion of Hungary in 896, Tokaj wine yards, where the most expensive wine of today is made, was awarded to dynasty that would later rule the Kingdom of Hungary. By 17th century, Hungary advanced in winemaking as to merit the first vineyard classification system in the world, and by 16th century, the lore of fearless warriors of Hungary, fuelled by “Bull’s Blood” – the red wines – sounded loud and far.

Today, you can visit the Tokaj vineyards in Hungary to see where the most expensive wine is made, which was praised centuries ago by the King of France Louis XIV as “Wine of Kings, King of Wines” when about Tokaj’s aszú dessert wine.

Wine of Kings, the Tokaj’s Aszú Essencia

Just like the French kings, Tokaj’s dessert aszú is praised all over the world still today. Made entirely from juice of aszú berries, not diluting any of its sweetness, the Royal Tokaji Winery, located in Mad, is making the comeback of praise for Tokaj’s quality wine. What makes it so expensive, though, is the fact that it takes a kilogram of perfectly ripe aszú grapes to produce just a teaspoon of wine.

In 2019, the Essencia was placed on the market at $40,000 for just a bottle of wine. Only 20 bottles of the wine exist, and after releasing the 18 bottles of wine in 2019, only 2 are still left for the Hungarian-based wine artist James Carcass.  

New Tendencies in Winemaking

While wine is by no doubt one of the musts when visiting Hungary – here are some Budapest free activities to spend your time in the country’s capital while on the travel in between the wine regions – the new tendencies in winemaking are encouraging travellers to try wine everywhere they go. From Norwegian Honeywine Suttungs mjød to Latvian pear and cherry wines when visiting Riga Art Noveau for its architecture, there is an upspringing wine culture in both traditional European wine regions as well as in traditionally wine-importing countries.

Where to go for Wine Tasting in Europe

Go to Champagne in France to taste the prestigious Veuve Clicquot and Tattinger wines.

Visit Piemonte in Italy to taste the rich whites, like Erbaluce and Cortese.

Go to Bordeaux, France to sip on Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.

Take a trip to Duoro Valley Wine Region in Portugal and taste the portwine in Vila Nova de Gaia cellars in Porto.

Taste the vibrantly coloured Tempranillo in La Rioja Wine Region is Spain.

Got some Cash? Other Expensive Wines to Try in 2020

Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2012 – $14,450

Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc – $5,850

Chateau D’YQUEM – $117,000

Ampoule from Penfolds – $168,000

Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese – $13,615


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