10 December 2023 / Borbála Kalmár (Translated by Sue Tolson DipWSET / Photos by Bulcsú Böröczky)
Grab a bottle of wine, gather some differently shaped and sized wine glasses from your cupboard and let’s play a game. Pour 50 ml into each one, sniff it and sip it and then sum up your observations. The wine’s aromas were certainly more intense in one than in another, while some accentuated the fruity sweetness and others may make the barrel maturation or acidity seem more pronounced. Wine tasting – and this is also important when tasting at home – is always influenced by the glass you choose for this. The top glassware brands have been working for many years to ensure that their products cater to a wide spectrum of consumer tastes. Just as there are special glasses for Riesling, Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, and a few years ago, Furmint even got its own glass, why shouldn’t the most world-renowned Hungarian wine, Tokaji Aszú have its own too?
Gergely Ripka, whose name may be familiar from his Tácoló Medve (Dancing Bear) wine diary or the biannual Tokaj Guide, has been a tireless writer and expert on Tokaj since 2010. About a year ago, he entered a new field: following a newspaper article, he approached Halimba Crystal, a company based in Veszprém County, which is famous for its handmade, premium-quality crystal glasses, both in Hungary and internationally. He asked a simple question: would Halimba be open to working with him to find and make the best glass for the unique aromatics and intensity of Tokaji Aszú? What followed the immediate positive response is almost history. For months, the public and the trade have been watching the birth of a wonderful new wine glass over several episodes:
As a Halimba Crystal ambassador, Fanni Piskor has been following the development of the glass from the very start. “When we began the testing process, we looked at existing glasses, then we adapted existing glasses for our purpose: we tested different shapes and sizes and different stem heights. We prioritised finding a glass in which a lighter, more floral and younger Aszú could reveal its beauty just as wonderfully as an older one. Not only shape and size, but also stem design is important, as when you hold a glass in your hand, the warmth of your hand can affect the temperature of the liquid in the glass. Besides the shape, with the Aszú Glass, we have also managed to find the optimal stem height, thus providing the perfect drinking experience.”
Seemingly delicate and thin at first glance, the graceful, hand-crafted crystal glassware is surprisingly durable and also dishwasher safe.
Almost 40 experts, including winemakers, international wine academics and even Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers took part in the multi-round testing. Besides Fanni Piskor and Gergely Ripka, the core team consisted of Hungarian experts such as Gergely Makai (Tokaj-Hétszőlő), László Mészáros (Disznókő), Károly Áts (Áts Winery), Dr Péter Molnár (Patricius Winery), András Bacsó Jr (Oremus) and Tamás Czinki, Hungary’s first Master Sommelier. The glasses were tested with 5 and 6 puttonyos Aszú in each round, while in the final round, 30 Aszús were tasted to determine the 5 final glass candidates. The winner was then decided on a points system.
Gergely Goreczky emphasised why it was important for the Hungarian Wine Marketing Agency to support the initiative, saying “The Aszú Glass is a fitting reflection of the uniqueness of Tokaji Aszú, as each piece is handmade in premium quality. The mission of this special glass is in line with the mission of the Hungarian Wine Marketing Agency: to increase the value of Hungarian wine, in this case Tokaji Aszú, through innovative solutions and tools and with the cooperation and commitment of the wine industry to our common values.”
It’s the time of year when the cold weather, approaching holidays and gatherings of family and friends draws us indoors, so wine drinking at home is also concentrated in the dining room and living room. These are the days when we enjoy opening a bottle of great Aszú, either as a fitting accompaniment to the end-of-year slowdown or to brighten up a festive dinner. Although Aszú is traditionally consumed at the end of a meal, as a dessert wine, just remember that it can even accompany an entire meal when combined with the right flavours. Tokaji Aszú is considered one of the most noble sweet wines in the world, so it’s worth selecting what to serve it in to ensure it’s a truly festive moment. “The consumption of sweet wines is decreasing around the world, but an exclusive tasting experience thanks to the right glass could also change this trend. It should not only be experienced in fine dining restaurants but also at home with a bottle of wonderful Aszú and the perfect glass,” said the project manager at the launch.
There are probably few people who would guess that the glass blowing tube had already been invented by the end of the 1st century, making the glass beaker a familiar sight in the Roman Empire. As the technology improved, glasses were made of increasingly pure glass, and at the same time, elegant crystal goblets became increasingly luxurious. Halimba Crystal’s handmade products bring this everyday luxury to life: a product with a refined elegance that can bring millennia of glamour into your home. And what should you serve in the Aszú glass? The best vintages of the last two decades are reviewed in this article.
The special new glass will be available from 10 December, World Tokaji Aszú Day, at selected restaurants, wineries and wine merchants, or can be ordered from the Halimba Crystal webshop: https://www.halimba-crystal.com/halimba-tokaji-aszu-glass-1791