Gruner Veltliner Wine – History, Characteristics, and Food Pairing Guide

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Grüner Veltliner Fast Facts

Parents & Origin: Savagnin + St. Georgener-Rebe
Grape: Small, spherical, green skin
Flavors: Citrus flavors like – Lime, lemon, grapefruit, nectarine
Regions: Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic
Sweetness: It’s Dry
Body: It’s on the lighter side
Tannins: None/few
Acidity: High
ABV: 11-13%
Similar Varieties: Dry Riesling, Grenache Blanc, Muscadet, Picpoul, Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng

About the Grüner Veltliner

It’s pronounced Groo-ner Velt-lee-ner(colloquially referred to as Grüner), and it’s Austria’s most famous white wine.

Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s most widely planted grape variety. There are about 50,000 acres of this Austrian grape worldwide. Over 75% of Grüner Veltliner wines come from Austria. However, you can also get the Grüner Veltliner grape variety from Northern Italy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand. And, even though it’s not known for being a wine producer, Pennsylvania has a growing number of solid Grüner Veltliners. If you keep an eye out for it you can even see it beginning to crop up on restaurant wine lists.

The History of the Grüner Veltliner

The history of this Austrian wine is a little murky, but it is a crossing of the Savagnin, one of the parents of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, and the second parent is speculated to be St. Georgener-Rebe, which is an obscure Austrian grapevine from the village of Sankt Georgen am Leithagebirge in eastern Austria.

Surpisingly it is not actually related to Roter veltliner nor Frühroter veltliner. While they have similar names, DNA analysis has shown that it is a misnomer. Grüner Veltliner is not related to any other veltliner grapes.

Grüner Veltliner is historically trained in the Lenz Moser style, which was developed in the 1920s. Known as the “high culture” method because the truck is allowed to grow relatively high (1.3 meters (4.3 ft)). The goal is to reduce vine density by keeping the vines in wide rows that are 3.5 meters (11.5 ft) apart.

Characteristics of the Grüner Veltliner Wines

Grüner Veltliner has the primary flavors of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and nectarine. A lot of citrus-based flavors in this wine. Followed by secondary notes of white pepper, iris, green bean, radish, lovage, tarragon, ginger, and honey.

It’s a great combination of those primary citrus fruit flavors as well as earthy vegetables as secondary notes.

Like many white wines, it’s best served chilled. For the perfect Grüner Veltliner wine, serve it at around 46 degrees Fahrenheit (7 ºC).

Keep in mind, Grüner Veltliner delivers a light body and is quite acidic as far as wines go. This can often lead to a “tingly mouthfeel.”

Is Grüner Veltliner a Dry Wine?

Yes, most Grüner Veltliners are dry. Grüner Veltliner wine can have hints of sweetness, but because the acidity is so high, most people cannot taste those sweeter flavors.

two types of wine

Grüner Veltliner’s Two Styles of Wines

There are two styles of Grüner Veltliner. There’s the classic style of Grüner, which is very common in US grocery stores. The second style of wine is made of higher quality grapes and is more complex in nature, often having a slight creaminess with notes of honey.

The classic style Grüner

Most Austrian Grüner Veltliners brought to the United States are in this style. The classic versions of the grüner veltliner are best consumed within the first two years of bottling. The bottles are usually dark green and the wine itself is a very pale green. Don’t be surprised if you see tiny bubbles

Light & ACIDIC

The Austrian Grüner Veltliner offers delightful citrus flavors that pair well with a variety of food. That being said, there’s not much potential for aging this wine. The usual acidity is lessened as the wine ages.

Expect a lot of acidity and earthy garden flavors. Grüner Veltliner is perfect wine for a hot August day.

High quality & Complex Grüner

The high-quality version of Veltliner Gruner wines are usually aged in oak barrels and in bottles for around 3-6 years before release. Naturally, these are more expensive wines.

If you’re looking for this more complex style of wine, search for bottles labeled “Reserve” or bottles with more than 12.5% alcohol.

Rich & Nutty with a Tingly Finish

This style of Grüner Veltliner is much more decadent, but still has Grüner’s classic acidity. It’s a tapestry of textured layers of lemon, honey, nuts, and a feint creaminess. Again mixing the citrus flavors with earthy creaminess.

Winemakers reserve their highest-quality fruit for this style of wine and often label their wines “Reserve.” This style of Grüner Veltliner is older and is usually released 3-6 years after its vintage date and has more of a gold-green coloring.

Grüner Veltliner Wine Pairings

Grüner Veltliner Food Pairings

The Best Grüner Veltliner Food Pairings

Grüner Veltliner goes with a wide variety of dishes. But it excels when it is paired with flavorful and even spicy foods. This wine also works with more complicated vegetables such as artichoke and asparagus.

Remember Spicy — Grüner Veltliner is crisp and the acidity works well for richly flavored foods. Since Grüner is an Austrian wine, it pairs with classic Austrian dishes like wiener schnitzel, however, because we live in modern society it’s found a place paired with Asian spices.

Meat

Veal, Turkey, Chicken, Pork Chops, Egg. Fish like Haddock, Trout, Halibut, Snapper, Sardines, Anchovies, Caviar, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams

FLAVORS

Ginger, Allspice, White Pepper, Chives, Shallots, Tarragon, Cumin, Green Onion, Turmeric, Green Cardamom, Sumac, Sansho, Shiso, Mace, Coriander, Lemon Balm, Curry Leaves, Curry Blends, Capers, Zahtar Spice Blends, Lime, Lemon.

Vegetables

Bell Pepper, Asparagus, Leeks, Artichoke, Sun Choke, Potatoes, Green Beans, Coconut, Wax Pepper, White pepper, Cauliflower, Endive, Kale, Radish, Chard, Spinach, Celery, Broccoli, Jicama, Cabbage

Food Pairings to Avoid with Grüner Veltliner

Like all white wine, Grüner Veltliner isn’t great with heavy dishes, specifically red meat. As usual, when red meat is involved, choose red wine.

Is Grüner Veltliner Wine good?

Austrian wine is often underrated. The Veltliner grapes have versatility and produce many types and varieties of wines, from light and quaffable to rich and concentrated. Grüner Veltliners have high acidity and distinctive notes of spices and white pepper in them. In essence, yes. It’s good, and Austrian wines, in general, are good.

Is Grüner Veltliner a Riesling?

Rieslings are aromatic Rhine White grapes that are sweeter and have lower alcohol content in their ripe form. Gruner Veltliner white citrus-like wine originates from Austria, Hungary and Prague, and the Czech Slovak region. So no, it’s not a Riesling.

About the Grüner Veltliner Grape

grape and leaf

Leaf

It’s a medium-sized leaf. Broader and with a pentagon to a circular shape with anywhere from five to seven lobes. The underside is moderately hairy. The white woolly hair on the shoot gives the variety its synonym – Weißgipfler, which means “white summit.”

Grape Cluster

Unlike other grapes, the cluster is medium to very large. It has medium-density with large round to oval berries. It has a greenish-yellow color.

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