The Tokaji legends

The golden rod, the world's most expensive wine, is kosher Tokaji. Legends about Tokaj wine.

The golden rod

The legend of the golden rod was born in the court of King Matthias. "I mention an unheard-of miracle, which they say does not occur anywhere else. Because there is a golden room in the shape of a cane, similar to asparagus, sometimes in the shape of a duck wrapped around the vine..." - wrote Galeotto Marzio, the chronicler of King Mátyás, about the Tokaj vines. His observation was confirmed by others, and some even made a gold ring out of the famous cane! Paracelsus, professor of medicine at the University of Basel, visited Hungary in 1524, where he visited Tokaj to study on the spot the vines of the famous wine, which, according to the alchemists' belief, produced golden grains from the magical soil of Tokaj: 

"Vegetables combined with minerals become liquid gold". This strange belief persisted even in the following centuries. From time to time, stories about gold nuggets, clusters of grapes with golden seeds, and gold-colored ointments emerged from the ground. The belief was finally explained in 1779. Based on a Viennese newspaper report, according to which a bunch of golden grapes had been found in the Mádi mountains, Mária Terézia took the bunch to Vienna and had it examined in the university's laboratory. There, he received evidence that the threads shining golden in the eyes were saps thickened and gummed up by the heat of the sun. So the legend has dissipated, but the reputation of the Tokaj cane has remained, and its domestication has been experimented with in many parts of the world, from France to America, from the Crimean peninsula to South Africa.

The most expensive wine in the world

Even today, a bottle of excellent vintage wine changes hands at an amazingly high price, and this was the case centuries ago, even though at that time it was traded by the number of barrels. The high prestige of Tokaji wine is primarily due to its real virtues, but it is not independent of the legends associated with it, which increase the mystical admiration for Tokaji. One of the wine legends tells of a secret cellar in which many Tokaj wines were hidden. A magnificent castle stood above the cellar, and the cellar master was only allowed to approach the barrels in full regalia, holding a silver candlestick. Since then, the castle together with the cellar has disappeared without a trace, but the legend lives on, and shepherds often hear singing and clinking glasses on St. John's night. Because even after their death, the lord of the castle and his guests are lured back to earth by the wonderful Tokja wine.

Wine diplomacy

Tokaj wine, especially a good vintage, was a princely gift. If he set out as a "diplomatic tool", his influence did not remain: alliances were made, armies turned back, engagements were made, executions were avoided. According to the surviving stories, the greatest "wine diplomat" was undoubtedly the Hegyalja vineyard owner Rákóczi. Before and after, however, many people used the "magic power" of Tokaj in the court of the Turkish sultan, the Russian tsar or the English queen.

However, Tokaj's treasure has not only softened the hearts of rulers and their ambassadors for centuries. Tokaj, Tarcal, Mád or Sátoraljaújhely have been saved many times throughout history from the destruction of war due to the influence of a few barrels. In 1683, for example, the towns of Hegyalja promised the Polish king 1,000 acres of wine. The result was not lost: the armies on their way home from Vienna spared the wine region preparing for the harvest. If not for the number of barrels, the Tokaj wine often helped the local small people change their fortunes for the better in smaller demizons, who called the gift a 5- or 10-liter "document stamp".

The "Comet Vintage"

The most famous wine in the history of Tokaj is the 1811 vintage aszu. The comet vintage got its name, on the one hand, because it was made from the by far outstanding crop of the century, and on the other hand, because that year "many Comets streaked across the sky", as Kossuth wrote, including Haley's Comet. The vintage's wines were bought for the most prestigious events of the 19th century, such as the coronation ceremony of Ferdinand V or the wedding of Rudolf the heir to the throne.

Is Tokaji the wine of kings?

When, according to legend, XIV. Lajos tasted Tokaj wine, it was called "le vin des rois et le roi des vins", which became known in Latin: "vinumregum, rex vinorum", i.e. "wine of kings, king of wines". But was it really Tokaji? Without a doubt! It was regularly consumed in the royal courts of Europe, but also in the homes of other dignitaries, artists, and scientists, and it even ended up on the pope's table in the 16th century. The early European reputation of Tokaj wines certainly contributed to the fact that its first merchants were nobles and lords with vineyards in Hegyalján, who maintained extensive relations with the aristocratic families and ruling houses of Europe.

Tokaji is kosher

From the 16th century, many Jews who fled from Germany and Northern Italy settled in southern Poland and Galicia. To comply with the regulations, they also needed kosher wine. Our nearby north-eastern wine regions provided the solution for this. Polish and Galician Jews in the 16th and 17th centuries. century, they began to come to Tokaj-Hegyalja during the harvest and make wine there, which they then took to Kraków and other cities. The first news about the production of kosher wine appears in a letter from Kassia (1609), who complain that not only Poles, but also Jews go to Tokaj-Hegyalja to buy grapes. By the end of the century, the news of Tokaj wine had spread throughout the Jewish communities. The famous Talmudic commentator Jákov Emden (1697–1776) also praised its incomparable golden color and unique fragrance.

596 / 5 000 Fordítási találatok The process of making kosher Tokaj differed from "ordinary" wine only in a few points. Anyone can do the harvesting up to pressing, i.e. trampling. This operation required religious Jewish people who kept the Sabbath. The handling of the wine and the cleanliness of the vessels used during its maturation were also a requirement. The must was always filtered into a new barrel, and the wine was aged in a new barrel in a kosher cellar branch. Nowadays, kosher wine is made again in the Tokaj wine region. The operation of treading was replaced by machines, but even today only a religious Jew can put the grapes into the tank of the press and only he can handle the buttons.

Medicinal wine

Wines in general, including Tokaji, were recommended against various diseases, and were sold in pharmacies in many places. Tokaji was considered especially effective against colds, but its blood-forming and general health-improving power was also quickly recognized. In connection with the latter, its consumption was also recommended for the sake of "fertility". A special healing power was also attributed to each vintage: "People with big bellies or chubby people are refreshed by the high-spirit Tokaj wines of the years just mentioned and make them fit for work," wrote a scientific work about the vintages of 1788, 1790 and 1793 about Tokaji. Even the smell of Tokaji could be beneficial, as a medical work from the beginning of the 19th century pointed out: "A really good Tokaji wine works in the air of the room like a weak, fine incense". Many of the doctors thought that the Tokaj soil itself had medicinal properties, and imported it to distant countries. The German physician Daniel Fischer's study "De terra medicinali Tokayensi" written in 1732 stated that the land of Tokaj is "an effective medicine against malignant fevers, plague, dysentery and other diseases".

„Non est vinum, nisi Tokajinum”