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Wine delicacy sipped from a crystal spoon – Secrets of Tokaji Eszencia

Tokaji Eszencia, a Hungarian legend, is a liquid gold and a wonder of nature. It is the nectar sung in the national anthem and believed to have been dripped by angels to mortals on Earth. It is the eternal memory of the vintage, a wine specialty that can only be made in Tokaj-Hegyalja.

Nowhere else in the world can you find a wine like Tokaji Eszencia. It possesses concentrated aromas and flavors unique to the Tokaj wine region. It is the sweetest, most decadent, and most flavorsome wine ever.

Produced in limited quantities and only in the finest vintages, Tokaji Eszencia exudes elegance and complexity with almost no alcohol- and extremely high sugar content. It is so rich and syrupy that served in small portions: traditionally on a crystal spoon rather than by the glass. 

What is Tokaji Eszencia, and how is it made?

Tokaji Eszencia is made using a unique process, where the shriveled, botrytized aszú berries are collected in specific vats with tiny taps at the bottom. As the berries press against each other, their valuable honey-like nectar, the essence, slowly drips out due to their weight. The essence is then collected through the taps and fermented in glass demijohns. 

Due to its syrupy texture and low alcohol content, Eszencia is rather a special type of elixir, rather than a wine

Eszencia must by law contain a minimum of 450g/l of residual sugar, but in some cases, this value can exceed 800 grams! Due to its high sugar content, yeast can only function in a restrained manner, so Eszencia ferments very slowly and minimally. This explains its shallow alcohol content, around 2-6%. One of the unique features of Eszencia is that its extremely high sugar content is refined by high acidity (minimum 8 grams/liter), creating a perfectly balanced taste. After fermentation, Eszencia must also be aged in the bottle so that the entire production process can take up to ten years. 

Tokaji Eszencia is one of the most expensive wines in the world. One reason for its limited availability is that this miracle cannot be produced in every vintage due to natural conditions. Aszú harvesting – required for making Tokaji Eszencia – is also one of the world’s most time- and labor-intensive harvests. Moreover, only 5-10%, at most 20%, of all grapes become aszú berries, during which process the grapes lose most of their weight. It takes 5 kg of grapes to produce 1 kg of aszú berries. In addition, regulations only permit a maximum of 6 liters of Eszencia to be made from 100 kg of aszú berries. The long aging process also increases costs.

It is important to note that Tokaji Eszencia is not the same as the similarly named aszúesszencia! The latter is a former classification used for aszú wines with a minimum sugar content of six puttonyos, which is no longer in use.

A true elixir

Due to its syrupy texture and low alcohol content, Eszencia defies traditional wine classification and instead embodies the quintessence of the grape, making it a unique type of elixir. 

This gem has been praised for its curative properties, and from the 1800s until the mid-20th century, it was readily available in pharmacies. Because of its low alcohol content, it was classified as a medicinal drink. Packed with vital nutrients such as minerals, vitamins B and E, and penicillin, it served as a revitalizing tonic for those afflicted with severe illness or anemia. 

One of the world’s top 100 wines – Disznókő Tokaji Eszencia 2007 

Disznókő Tokaji Eszencia 2007 is the only Hungarian wine on Wine Entusiast’s „Top 100 Cellar Selections” list

One of the world’s most prestigious wine magazines, Wine Enthusiast, annually releases its „Top 100 Cellar Selections” list. The prestigious ranking is compiled from over 1000 top-rated wines tasted throughout the year. Experts consider the top 100 wines exceptional, collectible wines with provenance, structure, vintage, style, and aging potential that will retain their beauty and value for decades. 

Disznókő Tokaji Eszencia 2007 is the only Hungarian wine that scored an impressive 99 points on the list. Tokaji Eszencia is renowned for its supernatural concentration of flavors and aromas, such as orange, quince, and tea grass, combined with dried fruit and spices. In the glass, it flows majestically like honey. Despite its high sugar content, the honey-like texture heralds an incredibly long finish with thrilling acidity—an elixir for the body and soul.

„Mahogany colored in the glass, this Eszencia draws you in with ethereal aromas of acacia honey, beeswax, caramelized pineapple upside-down cake, English toffee, and apricot jam. These heady aromas transfer seamlessly onto the palate. It is hefty and voluptuous in mouthfeel yet silky smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of acidity to counteract the intense sweetness.” 

Artwork for a work of art!

The artwork of Disznókő’s Tokaji Eszencia is not only pleasing to the eyes but also a testament to its longevity. While this exquisite nectar is ready to drink upon purchase, it could last for more than 100 years! For optimal enjoyment, it is best served lightly chilled at 15°C. Thanks to its high natural sugar content, it can be stored in the fridge for years after opening the bottle.

As for pairing suggestions, Eszencia is best savored on its own, without any accompaniment. Although it can be enjoyed as a dessert or after-dessert drink, Disznókő Tokaji Eszencia is best experienced with quiet contemplation. Each sip offers an intimate celebration of the most precious moments, deserving your full and undivided attention. 

Disznókő „Eszencia Angel Glass” to enhance the drinking experience

To enhance the drinking experience of every drop of Eszencia, Disznókő commissioned the „Eszencia Angel Glass” designed by Erzsébet Szilágyi, which features a glass angel holding a spoon in her halo. The winning design of the Studio of Young Artists Association competition was refined in collaboration with the artist.

For wine lovers, tasting Eszencia is a dream come true and an experience that is likely to be unforgettable. To sample Disznókő Tokaji Eszencia served in the Angel Glass, you can try it in the following restaurants, in the estate’s Wine Boutique, or purchase it from our partners’ online wine shops.

main photo: Múzsa bár