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How ‘Rotten’ Grapes Become Hungary’s Transcendent Tokaji Wine

In the world of sweet wines, Hungary’s Tokaji reigns supreme. King Louis XV even dubbed it, “king of wines.” But what separates this regal liquid from the rest? Winemaker István Szepsy credits the layers of volcanic rock under the furmint grape vines for the wine’s balanced, minerally mouthfeel. And he would know. Szepsy’s family has been making sweet wines in the Tokaji region for 500 years. Amazingly, the process for creating the ethereal Tokaji wine remains pretty much unchanged since then. You take furmint grapes, allow the botrytis fungus (aka “noble rot”) to surround the clusters, pick each berry one-by-one, ferment the gently-pressed juice in oak barrels and … voila: The wine of kings!

This Great Big Story was made in partnership with the Hungarian Tourism Agency.