Magyar

Wine Museum in Tokaj



The wine region is presented in interactive exhibitions which take you around the area on foot, by bicycle or by car, without having to leave the building.

The World Heritage Wine Museum of Tokaj is located where the Rivers Tisza and Bodrog meet in northern Hungary, and is about a 2.5-hour drive from Budapest. The building houses an exhibition hall and a museum for the European world heritage wine regions, presenting their history, culture and wines. An old deserted and ruinous ‘beer house’ has been converted into a museum, located next to the building of the former synagogue. The main focus is on the Tokaj-Hegyalja region and its viticulture. The wine region is presented in interactive exhibitions. You can even drive around in a mini car, or fly above Tokaj in a hot air balloon, which in reality would not be possible, but here you can do it with the help of the aerial photos taken of the region. You can explore the only world heritage wine region of Hungary, as well as the specialties of Austrian, French, German, Italian, Portugal and Swiss wine regions. Visit the perfumery, the spice store and the wine pharmacy.

Local grapes and wine specialities

Are you looking for traditional exhibitions? This is your place: part of the Tokaj Museum’s collection, focusing on local history, is also located in the three-storey building, featuring never-before-seen artefacts. So you can get to know not only the wine region, but also the history of the area. You can find out how local wine specialities, like the Aszú, the Máslás, the Fordítás, the Szamorodni or the various Tokaj essences are made. What gives Tokaj wines their characteristic taste? Why is it that local winemakers would never swap the noble rot grapes botrytized by Botrytis cinerea with coffee beans that have passed through a civet?

 

Which are the six indigenous and officially classified grape varieties permitted to be grown in the region? They are: Furmint (60 per cent of the grape grown here), Hárslevelű (30 per cent of the total), Yellow Muscat, Kövérszőlő, Kabar and Zéta (together making up 10 per cent of the total). Furmint is so typical of the region that the famous Riedel glass factory in Austria has started making special Tokaj Furmint glasses. They think this wine has such a unique character that it requires a shape that is different from the traditional glass. Naturally, there are some smaller plantations of other varieties: Chardonnay, Tramini, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Zenit, Demjén, Purchin, Kadarka, Gohér, Bakator and Rózsaszőlő. However, these are either rare varieties or are used in the process of coupage to create the so-called cuvée wines.

Wine-food pairs and the neighborhood of Museum

By the way, coupage: by the end you will know what wine varieties are recommended with the iconic dishes of Hungarian cuisine: pan-fried goose liver (served cold), goulash, fish soup, stuffed cabbage, chicken paprika with dumplings, catfish stew with noodles, saddle of venison with wild mushrooms, noodle with eggs and lettuce, Hungarian trifle or Dobos cake (yes, we actually drink wine with desserts as well). Did you know that the Royal Tokaji Essencia 2008, sold for around 40 thousand US dollars, was the most expensive wine at the time? Royal Tokaji only produced 20 bottles of this wine speciality because one kilogram of ripe botrytized grape was needed to produce a single teaspoon of wine. James Carcass designed the special 1.5 litre bottle for the wine. Each bottle was made by hand, so no two are identical. As far as the quality of the wine is concerned, all you need to know that the wine expires in 2300. Since it keeps its quality so long, it is very popular among collectors, so its price can only go up. Accordingly, more than half of the bottles have already been sold. Such interesting facts and much more await you in the museum to satisfy your curiosity. In addition to permanent exhibitions, there are also temporary exhibitions related to wine regions. As you discover the area, you will find other sights that are worth a visit and there is a cultural and conference centre in the middle of the old town, just a short distance from the Wine Museum. The typical Moorish design of the facade, the cast-iron pillars and gallery of the interior, and the glass windows are proof of its past: the building is a former synagogue that served as an intellectual and spiritual centre for Jewish merchants, who played a vital role in disseminating Tokaj wines through hundreds of years of trade in this noble drink. One thing is for sure: spread your trip over several days, since the company of the wines requires a sleepover. Plus, there is nothing more relaxing that a light stroll on a summer evening on the bank of the River Tisza, where those flushed with wine are cooled off by a light breeze.

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