Zeus is a white wine grape variety from Hungary. It is officially named Badacsony 10, after the small Badacsony wine region where it was developed. Like other Hungarian crossings such as Zenit (Badacsony 7) and Zeta, Zeus was given a classically inspired name, specifically that of the Greek "Father of Gods and Men".
Zeus vines produce medium-sized bunches of black-spotted grapes, which ripen relatively early in the growing season. This makes the variety a particularly low-risk choice for the production of sweet, late-harvest wines, as it offsets the need to leave the grapes out in the vineyard during the cooler, wetter months of mid-autumn.
Zeus berries have naturally high sugar levels, hence their use in the production of sweet, semi-sweet or off-dry wines (they are rarely used in dry wines). The downside of being an early-ripening, sweet grape is that Zeus does not have time during the growing season to develop full phenolic ripeness and complex flavor compounds.
Selecting the picking date for Zeus grapes is, therefore, something of a balancing act. Pick too early and the must lacks flavor; pick too late and the grapes lose the acidity that will ultimately make the difference between a sweet wine of average quality and one that stands out.
Synonyms include: Badacsony 10.
Food matches for Zeus include:
- Jam tarts with cream
- Sugar-dusted waffles with apricot preserve
- Dried figs with honey-toasted nuts