Wine, Journal

Zweigelt Wine – Austria’s Most Famous Red Wine

By Jon Elordi

Zweigelt wine

Looking for a unique great summer wine? Then I suggest trying the Austrian red wine known as Zweigelt(pronounced TSVY-galt). It is far removed from the traditional Pinot noir and Merlot and provides a distinctive and refreshing taste profile.

The Zweigelt wine was first developed in 1925 by German biologist Fritz Zweigelt in his crossing between St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch wines. Zweigelt wasn’t always its name. It, at one point, had the unappetizing name of Rotburger. Thank goodness that didn’t catch on.

Instead, it was named after the biologist who made it, and the rest is history.

Zweigelt combines bright and fruity flavors and is a great wine to have with a meal; Zweigelt makes a great companion to any weekend party.

Is Zweigelt a red or white wine?

Zweigelt is the most widespread red Austrian wine variety and can be found in appropriate sites in all of the major wine-producing regions of Austria.

Other common wines from the region are varietals like the German Riesling and the famous Austrian white wine Grüner Veltliner.

What does Zweigelt taste like?

Zweigelt taste

Zweigelt is known for its bright, fruity flavor.

Most Zweigelts can be classified as easy drinking, with bright acidity. They’re often full of red fruit flavors, earthiness, a touch of pepper and cinnamon, and soft tannin defining the palate.

However some Zweigelts have more of an oak influence, which sometimes overpowers those delicate flavors. Because it is an early ripening grape, it typically results in lower alcohol levels.

In the glass, it comes off as a bright, pearlescent ruby-purple color.

Flavor profile

Zweigelt might best be known for being tart and fruity. It’s known to be a versatile wine, with some being barrel-aged into dense, luscious wines with more body.

What makes Zweigelt such a unique wine is that it’s a combination of sweet and sour.

Fruitiness with Acidity

Zweigelt is a combination of an intense berry fruitiness with an appealing acidic tartness that makes for a bracing and refreshing wine. In this regard, it is similar to another Austrian wine Grüner Veltliner.

Zweigelt wines are light-bodied, have few tannins, and are high in acidity. All this means that it is a wine that can be enjoyed slightly chilled or at room temperature.

In regards to specific flavors, Zweigelt wines have notes of berry-based fruit as well as floral aromas.

Commonly Include:

  • Red Cherry

  • Blackcurrant

  • Tart Raspberry flavors

  • Black Pepper

  • Licorice

  • Chocolate

  • Cinnamon

What is Zweigelt wine similar to?

Zweigelt is similar to Beaujolais or Zinfandel. It’s a relatively dry wine that has a Medium-light body. It’s low in tannins but high in acidity.

Other wines it is often combined with Cabernet and Merlot to create an Austrian version of the classic Bordeaux Blend.

Typically Zweigelts has an alcohol by volume of 11.5%-13.5%.

Food Pairings

Zweigelt Food Pairings

Food pairing with Zweigelt’s acidity makes it different from most red wines, but this makes it a great wine to pair with food. It’s capable of cutting through heavy and rich flavors like a warm knife through butter.

Seafood

Zweigelt is one of few red wines that pair well with fish, especially shellfish. Pair it with fish cooked in wine or tomato-based sauces to really bring out the flavors.

Poultry

Zweigelt also pairs well with poultry. Chicken, duck, or fowl can be eaten with this wine. Zweigelt can pair with red meats. So all you carnivores out there will be relieved. But that’s not where this lighter red thrives. It’s best paired with lighter meals that are filled with flavor.

Grilled Foods

Zweigelt’s high acidity and crispness actually work really well with barbecue. The flavors in the wine do a great job of counterbalancing the innate richness of grilled foods.

Growing Region

Zweigelt Region

It’s primarily grown in the Burgenland region, which is located in eastern Austria.

Most of the vineyards wrap around lake Neusiedl, a shallow lake, which helps produce a unique microclimate known for its high degree of humidity. In recent years, the area has begun to attract more skilled winemakers who are elevating the wines produced in the region.

Zweigelt Vines

Zweigelt Grape

Because it is a very fertile red grape, the grape variety demands little from the soil. It does require intensive leaf work and yield regulation.

The leaf of the Zweigelt vine is circular to pentagonal with three to five lobes. The grape cluster is medium-sized and compact.