When most wine drinkers think of "Eastern Europe", the wine that comes to mind is Hungary's Tokaji. Prized by the Tsars of Russia, this wine was so desired that there was a group of Cossacks whole only mission was to ensure this wine reached them. The wine's famous reputation dates to the 1500s.

Now, many of the Tokaji estates are owned partially by Europeans or Australians. The three top wineries are Nyulaszo, Szt Tamas and Betsek. There is one second growth, Birsalmas. Perhaps the best known Tokaji is the Royal Tokaji Wine Company, which is partially owned by the English wine critic Hugh Johnson.

Tokaji is a sweet wine, made in a similar style to Sauternes. They make the wine with semi-dry grapes that have had 'noble rot' take hold. The grapes in this state are called Aszu. They are put into a wooden putton for a certain number of days, between 6 and 8 usually.

The juice concentrates at the bottom of the putton - usually 50 pounds of graapes will only yield 1/4 of a pint. This goes into a special "Essencia" wine, which is incredibly rich in sugar.

The remaining paste is added to a blend of 'normal' grape wine, with air left in the cask to allow oxidation, like Sherry. The sweetness of this final wine depends on how many puttonyos are added to this base wine.

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