The sweet Hungarian wine Tokaji used to be the celebratory beverage of choice for aristocrats throughout Europe, that was until the widow Clicquot spread the word about Champagne. However, despite their unusual patriotic pride in being miserable and pessimistic, the mighty Magyars don't seem too aggrieved about this, maybe because it means that there's all the more for them. They love their wine, it features in their national anthem (why doesn't a pint of mild or a dram of whisky feature in ours?) and they even managed to make a Frenchman, a royal one at that, describe it as the “Wine of Kings, King of wines”.
Unfortunately Hungarian wine was battered by phylloxera (a bug that devastated much of Europe's vineyards), wars and communism. But the good news is that there has been much investment recently in both the sweet and dry wines, and now both are starting to return to some of their former glory.
In our eyes the wonderfully versatile Tokaji is still the King of wines, faultless with stinky cheese, chocolate, anything with raisins in (except maybe muesli), minced pies, Christmas pudding, pâté, duck, liver, foie gras or even marmalade on toast if you’re really set on having it for breakfast. Also, with its great aging potential it is still perfect for celebrating, whatever Veuve Clicquot tells you. Egészségedre (that’s cheers in Hungarian)!