Austria’s wine producers are not reluctant to follow today’s trend towards more freshness and lightness in wine, because giving their white wines exactly these attributes is one of their core competencies. When it comes to red wine, too, the opulence, power and concentration of past decades are taking a backseat in favour of elegance, balance and easy drinking. Of course, the rosé wines are also extremely refreshing and have become a fixture in the ranges of many winegrowers.
Lean, fresh wines – in white, red and rosé – are not inherently “banal”. More and more winegrowers are taking on the challenge of producing wines that, despite being light-footed, also have an intense taste, depth and complexity.
Brilliant white wines
White wine varieties have recently been able to increase their area again compared to the red ones and expand their dominance to around 68%* of the total Austrian vineyard area. The growth is primarily due to Grüner Veltliner (especially in Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)), but the aromatic varieties Gelber Muskateller and Sauvignon Blanc (typical for the Steiermark (Styria)) are also on the rise.
All three varieties not only but also stand for easy-to-drink, crisp white wines, which are best enjoyed young and well chilled at an ideal drinking temperature of 8-10°C. At the table, they are ideal as an accompaniment to a typical Austrian Heurigenjause (platter of cold cuts) or to freshly caught fish.
Fifty shades of pink
There is a large variety of Austrian rosé styles, ranging from very light, crisp, fresh rosés with a summery white wine character to light red wines that have been given extra colour and structure by prolonged skin contact. They are more reminiscent of a light red wine and are ideal to enjoy chilled at a temperature of 12 to 14 °C, while the light pink versions like it a few degrees colder. Typical rosé wine regions in Austria are the Weststeiermark with its unique Schilcher and Burgenland with the Rosalia DAC Rosé. They work on their own as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to food, for example with vegetable dishes.
Red wines with a lot of fruit charm
The reds are also moving in the direction of “light-weight, delicate and varietally typical”, and a somewhat lighter, transparent red wine colour stands for casual drinking pleasure. Austria’s red wine vintners are attaching more and more importance to a good acid balance, fresh fruit aromas and moderate alcohol content. The original Austrian red grape varieties have proven to be ideal for charming, smooth red wines. Zweigelt, Blauer Portugieser, but also Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch produce wonderfully fruity, accessible reds that, slightly chilled, are also a lot of pleasure on hot summer days or at a barbecue. Try a typical Zweigelt or Blaufränkisch from Burgenland. The rare Blauer Portugieser and Sankt Laurent have their home base in Niederösterreich‘s Thermenregion.
* Source: Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism according to IACS (as at 31 May 2022)