While it may lack the intense mouth-puckering qualities of Muscadet, Grüner Veltliner is a fairly dry white wine in its own right. This wine is grown almost exclusively in Austria and is arguably the country’s most famous grape variety.
Initially Grüner Veltliner was considered to be a fairly unremarkable grape. However, in the late 1940s cultivators began to discover its hidden benefits. Since then Grüner Veltliner has become highly regarded and, thanks to its food pairing potential, holds a steadfast presence on restaurant wine lists.
Far from being a one-trick dry pony, Grüner Veltliner offers a fairly wide range of flavors depending on various factors. The most prominent flavors found in most bottles are that of lime and other citrus fruits like grapefruit, as well as a notable green pepper hints. Other potential flavors include stone fruits like nectarines, green beans, radishes, ginger, and honey. If the wine is aged, it can also have additional flavors of Brazil nuts and cream.
In reality, there are in fact two distinct styles of Grüner Veltliner, namely light and rich. The light variety is the most common and is easy to find in the United States. Most notable about this wine is its intense acidity. It’s also not uncommon to find the presence of small bubbles in particularly zesty bottles.
The rich style of Grüner Veltliner is harder to find and considerably more expensive than its light counterpart. These wines combine a creamy richness with an omnipresent acidity resulting in a unique and surprising taste sensation.
As is often the case with dry white wines, Grüner Veltliner pairs extremely well with a wide variety of foods and flavors. This makes the wine a versatile, and affordable, option to keep around the house for any number of occasions.
Grüner Veltliner works particularly well with spicy foods. Try some with an Indian curry, spicy Asian dishes, or Mexican chili. True to its origins, the wine also goes well with typical Austrian fare like Wiener Schnitzel.
Grüner Veltliner can also be drunk with poultry, pork, and fish such as haddock, trout, snapper, sardines, and anchovies.
Soft cheese is a great option to try with Grüner Veltliner. Look for rich cheeses such as Camembert and ricotta.
Wines to try
Weingut Rabl Vinum Optimum Kaferberg Reserve Gruner Veltliner ($24)
An excellent and affordable aged option. This wine is rich and spicy with a long finish.
Domane Wachau Freie Weingartner Terrassen Gruner Veltliner Smaragd ($17)
This wine has a strong stone fruit flavor as well as a fresh acidity and long finish.
Eichinger Gaisberg Reserve Grüner Veltliner ($18)
Light and delicate with an intense fresh finish.