There are 27 towns and villages in Tokaj-Hegyalja. The biggest ones:
Located 200 km north-east of Budapest, not far from the Slovak and Ukrainian borders, the Tokaj-Hegyalja (Tokaj Foothills) winegrowing region is in the southernmost part of the volcanic mountains that branch off from the Carpathian chain.
The Tokaj-Hegyalja Wine Region, which produces the world's oldest botrytis wine, has a number of unparalleled assets:
- Incomparable soil and microclimate: clay or loess soil on volcanic subsoil, a microclimate determined by the sunny, south-facing slopes and the proximity of the Tisza and Bodrog rivers, conducive to the proliferation of Botrytis Cinerea (noble rot) and the subsequent desiccation of the grapes (development of aszú).
- Indigenous grape varieties cultivated here for centuries: Furmint, Hárslevelű, and Muscat Lunel.
- A vast system of cellars carved out of solid rock, providing constant temperature around 12°C and high humidity around 95%, which are ideal for the aging of the wines.
- A well-regulated appelation system that was often ahead of its time.
- The knowledge of people brought up in winegrowing traditions dating back to several generations.
- 1571: first known mentioning of aszú wines.
- 1630: Máté Sepsy Laczkó describes the aszú vinification method still used today.
- 1655: the manual selection of the botrytised "aszú" berries is regulated.
- 1737: the winegrowing area is delimited by royal decree.
- 1772: the world's first vineyard classification system is born in Tokaj-Hegyalja.
The region and its principal towns can easily be reached by car (taking the M3 motorway from Budapest to Miskolc, then the No.37 highway) or by train (there are a number of direct trains from Budapest and from Miskolc; the journey takes 2½–3 hours and costs 3990–4730 Ft).
- Tasting wines.
- Take part in prilgimage routs (eg. Jewish rout, St. Elesabeth rout).
- Festivals: Tokaj Wine Festival at the last week of May; Harvest Festival at the first week of October, Zemplén Festival in August).
- Historical routs, eg. castle tours.
- Wine ship trips on Bodrog and Tisza rivers.
- Wine seminars.
- Fish foods, eg. Fish soup (Halászlé) and fried fish
- Tokaj wine cream soup
- Gulyás soup
- Dry wines: It is often ignored that the Tokaj wine region also produces excellent dry wines. These wines once referred to as ordinarium are now named after their respective grape varieties: Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji Hárslevelű, Tokaji Sárgamuskotály (Muscat).
- Late harvest: These wines, similarly to Szamorodni, are made from partly botrytised bunches and have more or less residual sugar.
- Szamorodni: This word of Polish origin means: as it grew. This wine is made from partly botrytised bunches without selection of the botrytised (aszú) berries. Both its dry and sweet versions are excellent aperitifs.
- Aszú: These are the wines that made Tokaj world famous. The proportion of the base wine or must used for maceration and of the aszú grapes harvested one by one determines the concentration of the wine (3 to 6 Puttonyos and Aszú-Eszencia).
- Eszencia: This absolute rarity gained from the free-run juice of the aszú grapes is a unique nectar with a honey-like concentration.