Perfect Fall Reds From Austria--and Where to Drink Them in NYC
It's frightening that we are already one week deep into September and are marching towards shorter, cooler days. For many, the change in weather means a welcome return to red wine. But what do you drink when the humidity abates yet temps still hover in the shorts and t-shirt zone?
Reds from Austria.
Gruner Veltliner, Austria's white wine darling, is almost a household name (maybe not in Iowa), but what about red grapes like Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt? About a third of Austria's wine production is red, concentrated southeast of Vienna primarily in the Burgenland region on the border of Hungary. Warm winds flow off the Pannonian plain, making red wine production possible in an otherwise cool country. Many vineyards lie on the shores of the Neusiedlersee, one of central Europe's largest lakes and also a source of warmth. But you needn't worry about the geography in order to appreciate the grapes' charms. Their lean, aromatic, and acidic profiles make them food friendly and easy to drink--and an ideal way to transition into fall.
Here's a quick crash course:
Blaufränkisch: Although a fickle grape to grow, this is Austria's oldest red, and some say it's also the finest for its ability to loyally reflect the nuances of terroir. It's generally medium bodied, bright, and spicy, showing a range of dark fruit flavors. It's also known as Lemberger in Germany, Washington State, and the Finger Lakes.
St. Laurent: Satin-textured, sometimes lean, sometimes plump, this wine draws comparisons to a Pinot Noir with brawn (or a cross with Syrah), and it displays a wide expression of flavors from smoky-mocha-blueberry to meaty-wet earth-Morello cherry.
Zweigelt: Genetically a cross between the first two, this grape was created in 1922 by Austrian scientist Fritz Zweigelt. Generally lighter in body, it's often juicy, cheerfully fruity, smooth, and quaffable, supplemented with notes of spice and floral aromatics like cinnamon sticks and violets.
Now that you know your grapes, hit the next page for four spots in the city to get your Austrian fix.