International Aszú Day Date in the current year: December 10, 2024

International Aszú Day Wines produced in the Tokaj wine region of Hungary are famous around the world, and the most famous one of them is Tokaji Aszú, a sweet, topaz-colored white wine made with “nobly rotten” grapes. Hungarian winemakers are so proud of it that they even celebrate International Aszú Day every December 10.

The Tokaj wine region is situated in northeastern Hungary and southeastern Slovakia. There is evidence that wine-making has been known here since at least the 12th century or even since antiquity, but the rise of Tokaj as a major wine-making region began in the 16th century. By the 17th century, Tokaj wines were an important commodity and a significant source of income for local rulers. Hungary’s wine-making industry peaked in the 18th century, but took a heavy hit during the communist era. It has been experiencing a sort of Renaissance since the 1990s, largely due to the growing popularity of Tokaji wines.

All wines produced in the Tokaj region can be called Tokaji wines, but Tokaj Aszú, being the most famous of Tokaj wines, is the one referred to as Tokay throughout the English-speaking world. It is the oldest known botrytized wine in the world (botrytized wines are made with grapes affected by a type of fungus called “noble rot”; they produce particularly fine and extremely sweet wines if harvested at the right time and treated properly).

The original meaning of the word “aszú” is “dried” (grapes affected by the noble rot are partially raisined), but over time the term has become associated with botrytized wines. According to legend, the first Aszú wine was produced by Laczkó Máté Szepsi in 1630, although there is evidence that botrytized wines had been made in Hungary before that.

Aszú accounts for less than 1% of all wines produced in the Tokaj region, but it is widely regarded as the flagship wine of the region and the most famous Hungarian wine. It is even mentioned in the national hymn of Hungary, written in 1823, as sweet nectar dripped by the God in the fields of Tokaj. The most important grape variety used in the production of Tokaji Aszú wines is Furmint, a white grape that has been grown in Hungary since at least the 16th century.

International Aszú Day was established in 2017 to celebrate one of the most recognizable wines in the world that has a unique character and is the first one to come to mind when one hears the words “Hungarian wine”. It was initiated by Dániel Kézdy, whose book about the Tokaj wine region titled Tokaj – People and Vineyards was published in 2014. He also created International Furmint Day, celebrated annually on February 1, to honor the most popular Hungarian wine grape.

Hungarian vineyards, wineries, wine bars, restaurants, and wine shops organize a variety of events to celebrate International Aszú Day. These events include wine tastings, wine and food pairing classes (did you know that Tokaj Aszús pair well with Chinese food such as Peking duck and sweet and sour pork?), presentations, and other activities for wine connoisseurs and beginners alike.

If there are no events near you, you can celebrate International Aszú Day by buying a bottle of Tokaj and sharing it with a friend, learning more about Hungarian wines, and spreading the world on social media using the hashtags #AszúDay and #InternationalAszúDay.

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International Aszú Day, international observances, wine-related holidays, Hungarian wines, Tokaji Aszú