An Uncertain Future for the World’s Most Iconic Sweet Wines

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Is there a future for traditional sweet wines as global taste changes? Zachary Sussman explores the “uncertain” future for the world’s famous sweet wines, like Hungary’s Tokaji Aszú, in this article for Punch.

Ironically, the examples that have fallen the furthest out of fashion—basically, port, Sauternes and Tokaji—were once revered as the coveted darlings of kings and counts and royal courts. It was by virtue of their sweetness, in fact, that they first gained international fame. Not only did high sugar contents prevent spoilage during the days before refrigeration, allowing wines to enter the export market as global commodities, but sugar also enjoyed luxury status at the time: The kind of intense sweetness found in a bottle of port or Tokaji was inseparable from its aura of aristocratic splendor….What’s next? Faced with declining sales and a wine culture that increasingly prizes the savory, the saline and the mineral, will these regions take the necessary steps to remain relevant? Or are they destined to survive as mere museum pieces?

Our own Stetson Robbins weighs in on the shift away from traditional wine styles in Tokaj:

Even at the sweetest levels, producers in Tokaji are moving towards a brighter, modern style. Hopefully, the traditional oxidative style won’t get lost along the way.

Samuel Tinon, a Tokaji producer we work with, had this to say:

During the first years after privatization, when we were starting new estates, we believed that everyone would be able to survive on sweet wine. Now most of the estates are playing in both fields, making at least as much dry wine as sweet, if not more.

Do your part to keep these traditional wines alive!

Continue reading the article here.

Browse Hungarian wines, including Tokaj, here.