We haven’t had any specific celebrations for our signature grape this year, but it’s always on our minds. After all, what is a holiday without our most widely-planted grape, Grüner Veltliner? And with so many styles to choose from, there’s surely something for everyone.
Grüner Veltliner, or Grüner for short, accounts for nearly 30% of Austria’s annual production, most of which is concentrated in the area of Lower Austria and northern Burgenland, but it is also grown in Styria and southern Burgenland in smaller quantities.
Grüner is a very distinct grape – it’ parents are Traminer and the newly discovered St. Georgen, which was name after the place in which it was found as it appears to be unrelated to any other variety. The particular vine believed to be Grüner’s “great-grandparent” is over 500 years old, but it is resilient as it survived a nearly lethal attack just last year.
Grüner is quite often referred to as “the sommelier’s darling” and rightfully so as it is quite food friendly. Unfortunately, in recent years Grüner has largely become known solely as a light, crisp and acidic grape boasting flavors of green apple and white pepper. While this is true, we must highlight that Grüner has many faces and can vary in flavor profile depending on region, age, and the length of time the grapes ripened. Don’t get us wrong, we love out light, fruity, and crisp Grüner just as much as the next person, but we should note that some of Austria’s best Grüner’s can rival the best white Burgundy’s in terms of aging and complexity.
So what type of Grüner do we recommend for the holiday? Well, that all depends on what you’re serving, of course! Think weightier wines for weightier foods; lower alcohol wines for foods with hot spices. Sweeter dishes love acidity, but reach for something with fruit flavors too.
Looking for something light? Reach for bottles from the Weinviertel for that very crisp wine. Something a little fruitier? Try the Kremstal or Kampal. Something with weight? Try a Federspiel or even a Smaragd from the Wachau or a reserve wine from Vienna; Burgenland is also a good choice here… and don’t forget the bubbles!