Most consumers don’t realise this, but Austria makes some very good wines. Finally, more and more wine connoisseurs are starting to admit that Austrian wine also has its place among some of of the best wines, such as those from France, Italy or California. Austrian wines are mostly dry white wines, and only 30% of them are red.
In fact, wine has been part of the culture in the Austrian region for over 4000 years but this amazing history has been obscured by the "antifreeze scandal" of 1985, when it was revealed that some wine brokers were adulterating their wines by adding the harmful substance diethylene glycol to their product. The scandal temporarily destroyed the market for Austrian wine. In the end, it taught wine producers in the country that to regain consumer trust, they would have to consistently raise their quality standards, something that is still happening to this day.
Austria’s Wine Regions
In 2005, Austria had more than 50 thousand hectares of vineyard spread into three main wine regions :
- Lower Austria that gathers the regions of Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal; most of the country’s dry whites come from here.
- Burgenland on the Hungarian border, it gathers the regions of Neusiedlersee, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Mittelburgenland and Südburgenland. Famous for its sensational sweet wines and good reds.
- Styria which gathers three other regions : Südoststeiermark, Südsteiermark and Weststeiermark. This southern region that neighbours Slovenia is famous for its aromatic, savoury white wines.
Almost all of Austrian vineyards are located in the east of the country, Lower Austria and Burgenland together make up the Weinland Österreich, the wine country of Austria.
The best way to visit Austria and see a maximum of quality wine spots is to travel through the wine route of Lower Austria. Stretching over 830 km, the Wine Route of Lower Austria is one of the longest ones in the world. It leads through eight wine growing areas, passing through more than 150 villages and about 1,700 wineries, wine taverns and gourmet restaurants.
This route is not only about wine. One of its greatest advantages is that it will no only offer travelers a complete trip through wine tradition, but also through thermal spots, magnificent buildings, some amazing walking or cycling spots along the Danube river, and much more.
The wine regions of Burgenland and Styria also offer great routes for travellers so if wine is your passion, then you should visit each region to find out more about its peculiarities and taste the differences in each wine.
Here is a short guide through the best Austrian grapes :
- Grüner Veltliner : Austria’s own variety, these grapes produce very tasty wines. Grüner is a wine that can be drunk young as well as aged. It's a versatile wine, and goes well with any type of food.
- Riesling : These grapes produce perhaps one of the best known types of Austrian wine in the world. While these grapes grow well in the region, they occupy only 3% of Austria’s vineyard area.
- Weissburgunder : Austrian Pinot Blanc, it makes very aromatic dry white wines. These grapes are concentrated particularly in the southern region of the country.
- Welschriesling : Austria’s second most planted white grape, is used to make sweet wines.
- Zwiegelt : The most planted red grape; are used to make a variety of wines.
- Blaufränkisch : Common in Burgenland, are commonly used for higher-quality red wines.
- Blauer Portugieser : Makes soft wines which need to be consumed early, as the wines from this kind of grape don't age well.
Austrian wines have some unique characteristics which make them increasingly attractive to enologists all around the world. When living in Austria, you should give the local wine a chance. After all, you might just end up falling in love with it.