Furmint: The Versatile Grape of Hungary

Immerse yourself in the world of Furmint, Hungary’s flagship white grape variety, treasured for its expressive character and extraordinary aging potential. From lusciously sweet wines to bone-dry whites, Furmint is a chameleon-like grape that provides a riveting exploration of the vast world of wine.

A Brief History

Furmint’s origins can be traced back to the Carpathian Basin, with mentions dating as far back as the 16th century. Its name likely derives from “froment,” referring to the wheat-gold color the grapes can attain at full ripeness. Furmint found its true home in Tokaj, Hungary, where it plays a starring role in the legendary Tokaji Aszú, a sweet wine of great renown since the 17th century.


Furmint is a late-ripening variety, typically harvested in late October. Its thin skin makes it susceptible to Botrytis cinerea, the noble rot that concentrates the grapes’ sugars, making it ideal for sweet wine production. Furmint is also marked by high acidity, which balances the sweetness in dessert wines and provides a crisp structure to dry styles.

Flavour Profile

In dry Furmint wines, expect flavors ranging from crisp apple and pear to more exotic hints of quince and lime, often complemented by a mineral, almost smoky undertone. In sweet Tokaji Aszú, the palate broadens to include luscious flavors of honey, apricot, orange marmalade, and spices, all beautifully balanced by the grape’s signature acidity.

Different Styles of Wine

Furmint’s versatility leads to a wide range of wine styles. Dry versions are known for their depth and minerality, often showing a compelling texture on the palate. The sweet styles, particularly Tokaji Aszú, can be remarkably complex and long-lived, earning them a reputation as some of the world’s greatest dessert wines.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

In terms of winemaking, dry Furmint wines are often fermented in stainless steel to preserve their freshness, though some producers use oak for added complexity. For sweet wines, the botrytised grapes are typically macerated with a base wine or must, then aged in oak barrels, resulting in a wine of incredible depth, concentration, and longevity.

Important Regions

While Furmint is grown in other Central European countries, its most important region is undoubtedly Tokaj in Hungary. This historic wine region, recognized as a World Heritage Site, is renowned for its volcanic soils and unique microclimate, both of which contribute to the distinctive character of Furmint.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Furmint’s food pairing options are as versatile as the wine styles themselves. Dry Furmint pairs well with dishes like roast chicken, pork, or rich fish like salmon, while its high acidity allows it to cut through richer fare like creamy pasta dishes. The lusciously sweet Tokaji Aszú is a classic match for foie gras and blue cheese, and can also complement desserts featuring fruits or honey.

Furmint, in its multifaceted expressions, invites you to discover the unique viticultural heritage of Hungary, providing a taste of the nation’s heart and soul in every glass.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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