Taste Panel Discovery: Austria – Spring for a Grüner

Hello Friends,

Several weeks ago, Vine Spot participated in a wine panel discussion and wine tasting at one of Dezel’s favorite wine stores, Unwined, to taste and learn more about Austrian wines. There was one varietal in particular that stuck out on the palates of the tasting panel and I would like to share that selection with you. I will admit however, that there were a few panel members who would have just as well opted for an un-oaked Chardonnay or Riesling and left Austria alone, but if you are into wine and exploring new things, then the region of Austria should very well be on your radar.

With the weather turning warmer (hooray!!), picnics and other fun outdoor activities will likely fill your weekends. With that said, a nice and refreshing spring time wine with good acidity fits the bill, and one that pairs well with a wide variety of foods – especially picnic food selections.

So lets look at Austria, a moderately sized country in Central Europe that boarders Germany. Austria’s push toward quality wine production is evident in their strict wine laws and much like German wines, Austrian wine labels offer everything a wine drinker like you and I will need to know. Our job is to do a little homework and understand Austrian wine labels, which will greatly ease our selection at the store. These wines can range from dry to overly sweet, so use the link provided to better understand the classification in relation to the wine style.

About 80% of all wines produced in Austria are white wines and most Austrian wines are made from a single grape variety, with a handful of blended wines. Austria’s most popular and widely planted white wine grape is Grüner Veltliner and if you have never tried this selection, Dezel recommends you try some Austrian produced Grüner Veltliner. So what can one expect from a bottle of Grüner Veltliner you ask? From Austria’s most important white wine grape variety you can expect a lightly colored, pale to straw wine, that can be anywhere from light to medium in body. Grüner Veltliner offers good to lively, refreshing and crisp acidity, boasting its food pairing qualities. Its aromas range from citrus, floral to exotic tropical fruit with a distinguishing and signature hint of fresh ground white pepper and spiciness. Flavors vary with ripeness level and winemaking technique, but do not be surprised if you detect peach, vanilla dipped pears, ginger, citrus, herbal or even slight vegetal flavors in a glass. Being the most important wine grape of Austria, combined with the strict growing and winemaking laws, most Grüner Veltliner finds will be of decent to very good quality, even at the lower price ranges. Additionally, Austria also produces some wines from the Riesling grape variety worth seeking out, but keep in mind that these will likely be stronger and drier than German offerings due to the slightly warmer climate and winemaking style.

Maybe you're not exactly a white wine drinker and prefer to try Austrian red wines. Spring is a good time for it, as Austrian red wines are for the most part light to medium bodied, soft in tannins and of a fruit forward style with good acidity. Try a Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir) or a Blaufränkisch, which is known in Germany as Lemberger and is also usually light with distinct spicy characteristics. These Austrian reds are good selections to try with grilling and similar foods.

A nice selection of Austrian Grüner Veltliner wines and Austrian red wines can be found at Unwined Gourmet Wine store located in Alexandria, VA in the Bradlee Shopping Center on King Street. Unwined also carries a wide variety of cheeses, sausage, crackers, chocolate, etc – just about everything you need for a nice and pleasant picnic. Dezel recommends a visit to the wine store and asking for Vanessa or Brian, who will happily assist you in putting together that Austrian picnic basket.

Also, since Virginia Vine Spot promotes the fine wines of Virginia, Unwined stocks at least 40 different Virginia wines for your shopping and tasting pleasure. Unwined also has tastings on weekends and I recommend checking their tasting events calendar as some tastings are hosted by a winemaker or guest speaker. If you visit, be sure to let Vanessa know you read about them here on Virginia Vine Spot.

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