Tokaji, Tocai, Tokay
These all sound the same, so they must be the same, right? Well, not so fast there. While these wines are all pronounced relatively similar, they share hardly any similarities at all.
Let us begin with Tokaji. This is the great, sweet, white wine produced in the Hungarian region of Tokaj-Hegyalja, and as of 2007, is the only wine that is allowed to be labeled Tokaj/Tokaji (Tokaj is directly from the village Tokaj, while Tokaji is refers to all others that are from around the region). It is produced from botyrizied grapes, or grapes that have been affected by the great Noble Rot (for more on that, see the blog post Random Snippets: Edition #3).
Tocai, on the other hand, is one of the most widely planted white varieties in the Italian region of Fruli. It tends to be a lighter bodied white with a floral aroma and almond notes on the palate. In 2007, the Hungarians managed to have the EU authorities ban the use of the term “Tocai” because of all the confusion with Tokaj, and now it must be referred to as ‘Tocai Friulano.’ California and New York are also producing smaller quantities of Tocai Friulano and is sure not to be missed.
Tokay actually refers to two different wines. The first was the way that English-speaking countries referred to Tokaji. Then there is also Tokay d’Alsace which was simply abbreviated at Tokay. This was the same thing known at Pinot Gris. Lawmakers in Europe proposed Tokay Pinot Gris as an alternative name – an intermediate stage until 2007 when the word ‘Tokay’ was to be eliminated from Alsace for good.
Alright, for a recap
Tokaji – Hungarian sweet white wine
Tocai – now known as Tocai Friulano – dry, Italian white wine
Tokay – old English spelling of Tokaji and old abbreviation for what was once known as Tokay d’Alsaces.