Grüner Veltliner Wine: Vienna’s Most Popular White Wine

Grüner Veltliner Wine Vienna’s Most Popular White Wine

 

IT’S funny to make a post about wine, as a rather moderate drinker. But when I do have a glass, I try to get the best. Interestingly, there is wine unique to the region around Austria’s capital. It’s called Grüner Veltliner and could easily be Vienna’s official drink (if it wasn’t for Wiener Gemischter Satz, Viennese Field Blend).

But, Grüner Veltliner is the most popular Austrian wine, and internationally successful at that. It’s a typical east-Austrian wine, very similar in its aromas to Chardonnay. It resembles some white Burgundies (Bourgogne), maybe a Chablis. Wines made from this grape have scored very high in international blind tastings. Grüner Veltliner has become omnipresent not only at Heurigen (Vienna’s wine taverns), but also at restaurants in Vienna, since like Chardonnay, it is a very food-friendly wine. 

The hilly vineyards near the Danube and west of Vienna produce very pure, mineral Grüner Veltliner for prolonged cellaring. Vineyards situated in the plains produce more fruity wine. Citrus and peach flavors are apparent, with spicy notes of white pepper and tobacco. Vegetal aromas are often found in Grüner Veltliner too. Austrian-born American celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck loves Grüner Veltliner for its high acidity.

My top choices for Grüner Veltliner would be Weingut Knoll’s Smaragd “Vinothekfüllung” (Wachau region) or Weingut Bründlmayer’s “Ried Lamm” (Kamptal region). By the way, 2015 was an outstanding year for Grüner Veltliner. In autumn 2016 a bottle of 2015 Weingut Knoll Samaragd “Vinothekfüllung” was around 50 euros. So get some for your cellar! It will get better and better with every year you have the patience to wait.

The amusingly gaudy label of possibly the best Grüner Veltliner wine, the Smaragd "Vinothekfüllung" by Weingut Knoll winery. 2015 was an exceptionally good year.
The amusingly gaudy label of possibly the best Grüner Veltliner wine, the Smaragd “Vinothekfüllung” by Weingut Knoll winery. 2015 was an exceptionally good year.

Aside from these big names, there are a lot of other very fine vineyards. There’s even an excellent kosher and organic Grüner Veltliner and Chardonnay by winemaker Hafner (Sheva Kehillos, Burgenland region). In Vienna’s second district, you can get Hafner wines at one of the small Jewish grocery stores or at the Vinothek Ferszt.

The other strong contender for the title of the best Grüner Veltliner wine: Weingut Bründelmayer's "Lamm." Here too, 2015 was an exceptional year.
The other strong contender for the title of the best Grüner Veltliner wine: Weingut Bründelmayer’s “Lamm.” Here too, 2015 was an exceptional year.

Today most wines are available online and ship worldwide. Though as far as cooking is concerned, any organic Grüner Veltliner or Chardonnay will often do the trick. Of course, this depends on the recipe, on how present the wine will be in the final dish. Generally, try to buy the highest quality you can afford. Drink less, if you want to save money.

Assortment of budget-friendly Grüner Veltliner wines to cook with. The Hafner is the organic kosher one. Pichler-Krutzler's "Frauengärten" tops the bunch by far.
Assortment of budget-friendly Grüner Veltliner wines to cook with. The Hafner is the organic kosher one. Pichler-Krutzler’s “Frauengärten” tops the bunch by far.

Grüner Veltliner Wine in Drinks and Cocktails

Grüner Veltliner is the go-to wine for two ubiquitous Viennese drinks. One is the Spritzer (Spritz means splash in German), also called Gespritzter, or G’spritzter. It is a mixture of white wine and soda or sparkling mineral water. It is favored by all Viennese, regardless of age, gender or social status. It is especially popular in summer. Hence, there is even a Viennese idiom, “to be eing’Spritzt,” which means “to be slightly drunk”!

A glass of Spritzer. Dry white wine in Vienna, mostly Grüner Veltliner with sparkling mineral water or soda.
A glass of Spritzer. Dry white wine in Vienna, mostly Grüner Veltliner with sparkling mineral water or soda.

The other one is the Spritz. It’s supposedly a Prosecco sparkling-wine-based aperitif from neighboring Northeast Italy. But in Vienna, it’s most often made without Prosecco. Your Viennese Spritz will be nothing but a Spritzer, prepared with the addition of Aperol, Campari, Cynar, or, Venice-style, with Select. When I’m in Venice, I’m generally served Spritz fixed this way, without Prosecco.

An old-fashioned lowball glass of Spritz with its customary lemon rind (or slice of orange) and an ice cube or two. In Vienna, this cocktail is most often prepared like a Spritzer with an added dash of some bitter liqueur typical for Spritz, such as Aperol.
An old-fashioned lowball glass of Spritz with its customary lemon rind (or slice of orange) and an ice cube or two. In Vienna, this cocktail is most often prepared like a Spritzer with an added dash of some bitter liqueur typical for Spritz, such as Aperol.

More on Grüner Veltliner Wine

To read more about Grüner Veltliner wine, I suggest you read this Grüner Veltliner Wine – Taste and Food Pairing Guide and this page by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board on Grüner Veltliner.

I also found this general Introduction to Austrian Wine, which includes a map, to be very helpful. The printed reference on Austrian wine I know is Philipp Blom: The Wines of Austria (revised & updated in 2007, but still very useful).

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Nino Shaya Loss-Weiss
Hi, I'm Nino, an unbridled foodnik blogging from Vienna, the city of dreams and Sigmund Freud. I'm cooking up a therapy with recipes and stories from Viennese cuisine and its eclectic influences – Jewish, Italian, Hungarian, Bohemian... – with an armchair psychoanalytical twist.

2 Comments

  1. Where to buy wine in Vienna?! First of all, there is the the famous food emporium Meinl am Graben ( http://meinlamgraben.at/ ). They have a very large selection of wines, a big cellar and very competent service. Then there is also the most prestigious Vinothek St. Stephan next to the cathedral ( http://ststephan.at// ). Lastly, there are a lot of smaller stores to be found throughout the city. The Naschmarkt has the illustrious Vinothek Urbanek. Farmer’s markets around the town, like the Karmelitermarkt, do have stalls that sell wine, often organic. You’ll even find a chain of wine stores called Wein & Co.
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