Matching wines to each dish that are strictly from a single country is a massive challenge even for the most experienced. Even more so for diners who have a stronger preference for the mainstream wines. In the landlocked country of Austria, the farmers grow a diverse range of grapes that are made into food-friendly wines for most, if not all, I dare say. Say hello to Austrian Wine Experience 2013, held for the third time in Singapore and this time is definitely a charm.
Austria lies on the eastern side of Germany, but doesn’t share the reputation its Deutsch neighbour enjoys. Unlike most of the European wine producing countries where vines are found in all parts of the country, Austria wines regions are clustered in the east-end department. Accounting for around one per cent of the world’s total wine production, the acceptance from the average Singapore consumer is on the relatively low end, not helped by the fact that these wines are rare on the market.
From a cool climate region, the bulk of Austrian wines are dry white with a medium to high acidity that can be served as aperitif or a glass to pair with the meal. A small quantity but good quality of red wines are produced. Geographically, the wine regions fall into the same latitude as the regions of Burgundy.
The first Austrian wine I will introduce is Grüner Veltliner. A white wine grape that makes up the bulk of Austrian wine production is also affectionately known as GV. This wine with its white pepper spicy aroma has developed a good reputation and following with consumers who have tried Austrian wines in recent years. Capable of expressing itself in either stone-like mineral aroma with crisp acidity, or luscious mouth feel and nose with opulent fruits and spices, Grüner Veltliner is a dependable wine for pairing with most dishes. For those who prefer more familiarity, there is always the reliable Riesling. My other favourite from Austria is the red St. Laurent – mixed berries on the nose, polished textured with lean acidity.
For most people, both Grüner Veltliner and St. Laurent are nothing more than foreign names – but things can get better with a little help. The Austrian Wine Experience by Mr Michael Thurner and his Unique Food and Wine company aim to actively introduce consumers to the diversity a cool climate can offer. In a nutshell, the project will last for a month starting from the 17 May, with close to twenty participating restaurants. At the restaurants’ discretion, the introduction of Austrian wine can manifest in a few forms. Free tasting flights before buying, designed degustation menus, winemaker dinners, wine education classes and the Try-and-Buy incentive promotion that rewards customers who buy a total of five wines or more from participating restaurants.
In whichever form, this is going to be educational for anyone who hasn’t tried Austrian wines and a good opportunity for experienced drinkers to compare the stylistic differences between producers. I hope to see you there.