The best Tokaj wines
The best Tokaj wines

Tokaji wine: The golden elixir

Dive into a glass of Tokaji wine, the wine long favored by kings and queens of Europe. Learn more on JustBudapest.


verywhere you go in Budapest, you’ll find wine. Since the founding of the nation in 1000 AD, Hungarians have been making wine, or “bor”. It is a passion that has entirely gripped the country and spread to all four corners. Deep red ‘Bull’s Blood’ wine from the north. Dry white wine from the volcanic soils of the west. Full-bodied reds from the south. And the in the east – sweet, golden, and unique. It is the sweet wine from Tokaj that truly earns Hungary distinction in the wine-making world, and why you can’t miss tasting a glass when in Budapest

A bottle of amber-colored sweet wine from Tokaj
A bottle of amber-colored sweet wine from Tokaj

Wine of kings

Up until a century ago, the great kings and queens of Europe favored sweet Tokaji wine over any other, and Tokaji Aszú above all. Dripping like a golden syrup, the color of rich honey, Tokaj Aszú inspired a deep passion among those wealthy enough to buy a bottle. During his conquests, Peter the Great sent an army to safeguard the Tokaj vineyards. King Louis XV of France famously labeled Tokaj wine ‘the wine of kings, the king of wine.’ Queen Victoria was even given 12 bottles of Tokaji Aszú for her birthday every year, one for every month she had lived. So, what was it that made Tokaj wine so valuable – and so tasty?

“6 puttonyos” Tokaji Aszú, a very sweet bottle of Tokaji wine
“6 puttonyos” Tokaji Aszú, a very sweet bottle of Tokaji wine

Nestled between the mighty Tisza and Bodrog rivers at the foot of Mount Tokaj, an extinct volcano, the village of Tokaj has its own unique microclimate. The mixture of volcanic and clay soil on south-facing slopes allows for the perfect conditions for ‘noble rot’ to grow, where moist weather is quickly followed by dry weather. About a thousand years ago, the people of Tokaj realized the warm ‘Indian Summers’ after rainfall gave the normally deadly grey fungus just enough time to grow on the vineyard grapes before drying out. It is therefore this grape ‘rot’ that gives Tokaji Aszu wine its sweet flavor. On every bottle you’ll see the word ‘puttonyos’ – the unit for the level of sugar. The higher the puttonyos, the sweeter the wine. 

To keep this special flavor sweet, the people of Tokaj carved their wine cellars out of the very volcanic rock of Mount Tokaj to help their wines age perfectly.  And to protect their recipe, they also set up the very first vineyard classification system in 1730, 120 years before Bordeaux. In 1757, Tokaj finally received its designation as the world’s first appellation. Today, Tokaj is a Unesco World Hertiage site, and you can visit the incredible mountainous wine cellars throughout the 30 villages and towns of the region. 


If you’re not a fan of sweet wine, try the dry white wines of Tokaj instead. Although they are not as celebrated as the sweet Aszú, they are just as lovely. Made with the Furmint grape variety, you can try the Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji Hárslevelű, Tokaji Sárgamuskotály, and Tokaji Kövérszőlő.

Wine tasting in Budapest

After trying Tokaji wine, don’t miss tasting the varieties from the other incredible wine regions of Hungary. Wine tasting is the perfect way to get a taste of history, with each variety offering different, brilliant flavors from the next. And let’s be honest, what’s better than a cozy wine cellar and a tall glass of red on a cool night? Try a glass from each region:

  • Egri Bikavér or ‘Bull’s blood’, a deep, hearty red from Eger in the north of Hungary
  • Award-winning Villányi Cabernet from Villány in the south
  • Refreshingly dry Somlói white wine from the ancient Nagy Somló in the west

You can also reserve a wine-tasting experience at several different venues in Budapest – check out our article to learn more. Intrigued by other famous Hungarian beverages as well? Read our articles to get familiar with the county’s trademark spirits, pálinka and Unicum. Alternatively, if you want a more interactive experience, you can also taste the best of Hungarian craft beers and pálinkas at several spots in Budapest.

Q & A

What is Tokaji wine?
Tokaji wine is wine from the Tokaj wine region of Hungary, famous for sweet white wine
Where is Tokaji wine from?
Tokaji wine is from the region of Tokaj, a region of vineyards under the shadown of Mount Tokaji, an extinct volcano.
Why is Tokaji Aszú wine famous?
Tokaji Aszú is famous for making wine with botrytised ‘nobly rotten’ grapes, which gives the wine a sweet flavor.
Where can I try Tokaji wine?
Try Tokaji wine in Budapest, at one of the many wine tasting experiences, such as ChampionWine.
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