Wednesday, May 16, 2012


 Currently the only dessert wine on our wine list at Oxheart is Tokaji. Recently, I was pouring a guest a glass of Tokaji, and they looked up at me and asked, “So you like Tokaji? How would you describe the taste?”

I paused for a very, very long time. And I think my actual answer was “Yes, I like it.” I ignored the second question, which I wanted to answer very badly.

Here is what I wanted to say, but didn’t have time to fully articulate:

What does Tokaji taste like? It tastes like a late harvest white wine and a tawny port got together. Perfectly ripened peaches and nectarines, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla and honey. It’s nice.

Tokaji is complex. It is made primarily from the Furmint grape, in Hungary. It is made by masterminds who could be building spaceships or curing cancer. Instead they make something much more important: one of the best wines in the whole damn world. It is a perfectly executed and timed series of kicks to guide your subconscious mind through ten layers of dream worlds so that it might explode into full consciousness. It is the fourth unsolved panel of the Cryptos statue at the CIA headquarters in Langley. Tokaji is a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, deep-fried in suspense.

Tokaji is balanced. It is perfectly balanced on the edge of a razor. Not only is it unctuously sweet, but it has laserlike acid to level out all that delicious sugar. It is balanced like the madness and evil that drive the human condition are counterbalanced against the joy of a meaningful life with people you care about. Somewhere in the world an orphan is adopted into a loving family, while a mercenary wipes blood off a well-worn machete elsewhere. So too is Tokaji balanced.

Tokaji is intense. How intense? Imagine staring into the sun. You stare at it for hours. You’re blind. You’re sweating. And you can’t look away, because it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. Then the sun blows up. The entire solar system is engulfed in white-hot fire. Everything that you thought mattered: your car payments, your herb garden outside your apartment, your pet- they’re gone. Reduced to elemental carbon. You float through outer space for a billion years. Later, the atoms that made you form another planet, in a different solar system in a different galaxy. That hypothetical experience is almost as intense and profound as the flavor of Tokaji.

Tokaji is historically significant. Tokaji beat other sweet wines to the punch on the delicious possibilities created by Botyrtis. The vineyards were the first to ever be formally demarcated, round about 1700. Catherine the Great regularly employed military force to obtain and protect obscene amounts of it. The Czars got drunk as hell on it. Thomas Jefferson poured it up all throughout his career, and died penniless in the pursuit of more Tokaji, amongst other wines.

I like Tokaji a lot. How much do I like it? I will make you this promise: if for some ridiculous reason I am elected president of the United States, I will plunge America into the greatest depression it has ever seen and declare war on everyone in pursuit of more Tokaji. I will spend every red US cent that I have legal authority over to obtain every bottle in existence. I will invade Hungary. As the A-10 Warthogs scream overhead and the M1 Abrams tanks roll through the streets of Budapest, I will land Marine Force One in the center of Mézes Mály, the great first growth of Tokaji. I will be like, “Sorry, this belongs to America now.” I will draft every man, woman, and child into military service to achieve this insane and wasteful goal of seizing the vineyards of Tokaji. If elected, I will probably not remain president very long. I like to think Catherine and TJ would approve.

When I taste Tokaji, I feel like my mind is being torn apart by a truth that I am not ready to comprehend. Tokaji is the reason the world turns, and it is the reason I get up in the morning. It is an ancient battlesong that gives me the strength to fight another day when my body is broken and my resolve has been tested too thoroughly.

I would highly recommend you try it. It is one of the most fascinating beverages on the planet, and it is readily available by the glass at Oxheart.

Since this is the first time I have ever mentioned my current job in blog form, I should probably just go ahead and say that in case you are offended or weirded out, these opinions are exclusively mine.