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Hungary was once considered one of the world's leading wine countries, with their distinctive and flavorful wines being the favorites of Europe's royal families until the early 20th century and the fall of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Soviet Union all but obliterated Hungary's wine traditions, replacing their unique produce with the sweet and characterless red wines the country is still often associated with, yet thankfully, the past twenty five years has seen an impressive return to form. All over the historic Tokaj region, craftsmen and master vintners are using the grape varietals which thrive on the hillsides in the hot summers and long autumns to once again produce the amazingly flavored Tokaji wines – a wine made by allowing the grapes to wither on the vine, thus concentrating the sugars and producing remarkable flavors and aromas of marzipan, dried fruits, pear and candied peel.
One of the most widely grown and easily recognized wine grape varietals in the world is the Muscat, an ancient grape with an exceptional amount of versatility. For centuries, Muscat varietal grapes have been used all over Europe for the production of wonderfully fruity wines of many different shades and colors, which, with their strong 'grapey' flavor have come to be known as a quintessential fine wine grape. Their relatively high acidity also means they are ideal for the production of sparkling wines, and the fizzy Muscat wines of Italy are widely agreed to be amongst the best in the world. In more recent years, New World countries have shown a huge amount of flair when it comes to the Muscat grape, and have had plenty of success in allowing its natural and vibrant character to come through in the bottle.