Grüner Veltliner: The Genius Grape

18 Jul

Interested in trying a white wine that’s a little different and a lot delicious? I suggest Grüner Veltliner, the flagship wine of Austria. An under-the-radar wine, it’s not nearly as well known as it deserves to be. That’s a pity, because it complements so many foods beautifully.

Sommeliers love Grüner Veltliner because, as importer Terry Theise has written, it “answered a food prayer…. It’s the wine that will partner all the foods you thought you’d never find a wine for … artichokes …, avocado, every manner of obstreperous veggie … a really peppery salad.” It’s ideal for vegetarians. And it’s lovely with lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops, sushi, caviar, fish, poultry, veal and pork. Of course, it also complements Austrian cuisine. Theise, who partners with Michael Skurnik Wines, calls it “the world’s most flexible dry white wine at table.” It’s certainly one of them.

What are Grüner Veltliners, a.k.a. GrüVes or G.V.s or Groovys, like? They’re aromatic, usually dry, usually light to medium bodied, crisp and fairly high in acid.  “If Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc had a baby, it would be Grüner Veltliner,” writes Theise. Austrian wine importer Monika Caha suggests that if you like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, you’ll like Grüner Veltliner. Jodi Stern, manager of wine importer Winebow’s Austrian portfolio, believes that G.V.s combine qualities of Alsatian and Loire wines: They offer, she says, the “complexity, sensuality, depth and body of Alsace” and the “mineral, spark and loveliness of the Loire.”

Due to its unique character, Willi Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, calls it the genius grape. Now, he may be biased, but he’s definitely onto something.

Some G.V.s are lively, simple, meant for everyday use and best drunk young; others are more complex and structured and age well. The price usually serves as a guide to which style the wine is.

Here are a couple of G.V.s to turn to regularly:

The Grooner 2012 (SRP* $12) is from the Forstreiter family, who’s been making wine in the Kremstal, along the banks of the Danube River, in the Niederösterreich region since 1868. They operate a small winery where grapes are hand harvested and  sustainable agriculture is favored.

Grooner, a Monika Caha selection, has aromas and flavors of green apples and citrus, with tropical fruit notes. It’s easy drinking, well balanced, fresh, dry, zippy, with good acidity. Grooner is a great aperitif, an ideal summertime wine. It’s recommended to accompany oysters, fried chicken, crisp pork belly, pizza, sushi, spicy cuisines from Korean to Indian, barbecue, salads, veggies and more. And it’s topped with a convenient screw cap.

Berger Grüner Veltliner 2012 (SRP $14; 1 Liter) also hails from the Kremstal subregion in Niederösterreich, the largest of Austria’s four major wine-growing areas. It represents roughly 60% of all Austria’s vineyard plantings, and produces mostly white wines.

Berger is a  perennial favorite. It’s the best-selling wine in Theise’s Austrian portfolio. It’s light, fruity, juicy, fresh, crisp and zingy, with some lime, some pear, some mineral notes. And it’s crowned with, well, a convenient crown cap.

*Wines can usually be found for less–sometimes considerably less–than the SRP (suggested retail price). Check out to get an idea of actual prices.

6 Responses to “Grüner Veltliner: The Genius Grape”

  1. Riva Freifeld July 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    A combination of Alsatian and Loire white wines? LIme, pear and mineral notes? Sounds absolutely ideal. I would buy Grüner Veltliner based on this alone!

    • Sharon Kapnick July 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Try it! I think you’ll like it. And these two wines should be fairly easy to find.

  2. Ned Towle July 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    Sharon, very nice, thanks, Ned

    Ned Towle, Director 914-478-5197

    From: Sharon’s Wine Line Reply-To: Sharon’s Wine Line Date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:22 PM To: Edward Towle Subject: [New post] Grner Veltliner: The Genius Grape Sharon Kapnick posted: “Interested in trying a white wine thats a little different and a lot delicious? I suggest Grner Veltliner, the flagship wine of Austria. An under-the-radar wine, its not nearly as well known as it deserves to be. Thats a pity, because it complements s”

    • Sharon Kapnick July 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed the story. Sharon

  3. Linda Schleider July 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    Thanks for the entertaining and informative post!


    Sent from my iPhone

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