I often crave fresh, seasonal veggies as well as astoundingly delicious international eats and have a tendency to not feel so great until I get my fix. I also incessantly yearn to travel to places on the other side of the world, like Europe, in part because I covet their fine dining and superb wines.
Because it has been a few months since I’ve had my dose of European culinary delights in Europe, I have found myself in the kitchen cooking up chic new twists to these culinary experiences I dearly miss.
Keep in mind, when you eat like a European, you have to drink like one too. With each dish, I find myself browsing our wine cellar to find the ideal wine to go with the latest creation. Such a tough life…
This week I made a simple, lip-smacking Lemony Miso Pesto Pasta paired with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
This Lemony Miso Pesto Pasta is tart, delicious, and totally worth a trip to the locals farmer’s market for as may fresh ingredients as possible. If you can find fresh, handmade pasta your taste buds will experience double the pleasure.
- Bunches of basil
- Bit of baby spinach
- Oooo so delicious olive oil
- Mega spoonful or two of white miso paste
- Lots of lemon zest
- Enough lemon juice to satisfy your love for tartness
- Toasty pine nuts
- Sauté or steam seasonal veggies (ideas: asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, bell pepper)
Your favorite type of pasta, but I used fettuccine.
As the pasta cooks, place all the sauce ingredients in a Cuisinart and chop until it reaches your preferred consistency. Sauté or steam the veggies. Combine everything and top with Parmesan and arugula as desired.
While the obvious wine pairing with an Italian dish would be, of course, an Italian wine, I prefer to mix the countries and flavors a bit more. While a Pinot Grigio or Prosecco would be a nice choice, I wanted to take this opportunity to pair one of my favorite Italian home cooked dishes of all-time with one of my favorite white wines of all-time, an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. I know this grape is capable of both holding its own and complimenting such a zesty dish.
I chose a 2008 Grüner Veltliner Haarlocke Hajszan from Vienna (yes, the city limits of a European capital… how many wines can boast these type of credentials!) because I wanted to compliment both the lemon in the sauce as well as the arugula topping. Grüner Veltliner wines, in general, have a tendency to be lemony, peppery, and full of minerality. This particular wine tasted slightly of stone fruit (apricots) and had pleasing levels of acidity that matched quite well with the creamy, lemony basil sauce. The peppery finish, synonymous with Grüner Veltliner, goes hand-in-hand with freshly picked arugula.
In reality, it doesn’t matter which Grüner Veltliner label/vineyard you enjoy with this dish, but I highly recommend you give this grape variety a taste. If you love funky, fun, dry, different, and unoaked white wines… you can’t go wrong with Grüner Veltliner.
It’s also a great wine to sip while you cook.
* Disclaimer: Wine provided as sample from a PR agency; Photos taken on a Sony Cyber-shot WX9 courtesy of Sony Electronics.
Austria boasts some amazing wine. If you’re in the country, and you have a day or two or three, I’d recommend checking out the Danube wine growing region.
While Wachau, a picturesque landscape with vines growing on steep terraced slopes, no doubt deserves the picture-perfect accolades, we recommend also checking out fantastic neighboring wine regions including Kamptal, Kremstal, and Traisental.
All known for their Grüner Veltliner & Riesling, you’ll find some great views, breath-taking vineyards, and experience true Austrian hospitality in a local Heuriger, or wine house.
Home to Austria’s largest wine producing town, Langenlois, this region is arguably the most touristic region for wine tourism in Austria.
You can’t visit the Kamptal Valley without a trip to the Loisium World of Wine (photo, left). While it’s technically a museum it’s more like an American-style amusement park-like experience.
Both kids and adults will be hypnotized the moment they step into the elevator and descend into the gigantic steel fermentation tank. A water and light show greets unsuspecting visitors as they begin the tour that winds through the history of wine making, old cellars, and eventually into the Weingut Steininger’s own wine making facility.
Is it worth the trip? I’d say so, but know that you’ll feel more like you’ve stepped into California Adventure for an hour or two, minus the Rock n’ Rollercoaster. It’s a totally un-European experience in Europe, so soak it up… or avoid it if you prefer mom-n-pop rustic.
Step next door into the ultra modern Wine & Spa Resort Loisium Hotel (picture on right), or spend a romantic night in this cozy hotel amongst the vineyards. There’s an amazing restaurant, a first-class spa, and access to more Austrian wines than you can possibly imagine. Just make sure to share a room with someone near and dear to you because the glass-enclosed bathroom situation is intimate. Perfect for Honeymooners, in fact.
If you’re celebrating something special, open a bottle of delicious Weingut Steininger sparkling wine, produced just a few feet away.
Geologically similar to Wachau, Kremstal is home to fabulous scenery and an interesting historical past. Idyllic, quaint wine producing towns dot the countryside.
The giant monastery, Stift Göttweig, stands atop a hill in the Dunkelsteiner Forest. There’s a restaurant with an amazing view and the beautiful Abbey is open for you to explore. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into an ambitious elderly monk who loves to practice his English!
The Göttweig Monastery wine estate has been in continuous operation since 1083. With this many years to perfect wine making, the Göttweiger Berg Riesling, has amazing citrus as well as apricot notes. It’s fresh and the minerality provides a nice balance making this dry Riesling perfect for amazing salads, fish, chicken, and an array of appetizers.
A popular destination for hikers, cyclists, and wine enthusiasts, Traisental won’t disappoint wine lovers who enjoy an active lifestyle!
When the weather is good, pick up a cycling map to tour the region. But, be sure to plan your wine visits ahead of time… calling in advance assures you won’t be biking the distance to find a locked door.
Either way, cozy wine houses like Heuriger Huber greet visitors year round and will fill you with good wine as well as local treats. Just be sure to double check seasonal hours.
It’s likely you’ll be hearing more and more about the Traisental region in years to come. A new generation of winemakers, with global mindsets, are changing the way wine is being made and introducing Traisental to the world.
One such example is Markus Huber, owner and winemaker at Weingut Markus Huber. Still young, in his early 30s, the winery has experienced staggering growth in a relatively short period of time. Make sure his winery is part of your Traisental itinerary. The tasting room is modern, cozy, and the wines will leave you calculating just how many bottles your suitcase can hold!
I’m aware I haven’t even discussed Austrian red wines in this particular series and I want to make it clear… they shouldn’t be ignored because they’re equally as delicious and definitely deserve more than a passing mention. St. Laurent, Zweigelt, Blaufränkish, Blauer Wildbacher, Blauer Portugieser, and Blauburger are just a few examples of many red wine varieties found in Austria.
Once such bottle is a 2006 Pinot Noir from Weingut Bründlmayer in Kamptal. An earthy smell with forrest-like quality, it has amazing body that coats the mouth yet is so smooth it literally glides down your throat. It was, hands down, the TravelPlusWine’s favorite red wine of the trip.
Next time you’re in Austria, make wine country a part of your journey!
In case you missed it… here are the other articles in this series:
Disclosure: TravelPlusWine visited these wine regions on a sponsored media trip as part of the 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna, Austria.
So many wines, so little time!
This definitely rings true when visiting Austria!
While I definitely recommend creating your own Grüner wine tasting footpath on vacation (ask around for recommendations!), here are a few of my favorite wines to get you started:
Ewald Gruber, Röschitz
Grüner Veltliner Reserve
Full- bodied, delicious and quite elegant. There are notes of grapefruit, but nothing overpowering because the creamy, buttery oak provides a nice balance.
Weingut Pleil, Wolkersdorf
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Classic
Fruit bomb aroma with anise hints. This pleasantly tart mouth puckering wine feels well-balanced and has a nice lingering acidity.
Weingut R&A Pfaffl, Stetten
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Zeiseneck
Tropical aromas and taste. The acidity, while somewhat apparent, is amazingly discreet which is what makes this such an interesting wine.
Weingut Ebner- Ebenauer, Poysdorf
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Hermannschachern
Lemony, acidic tartball that lingers on the palate. Balanced, fun, and fresh it doesn’t overwhelm making this a great overall wine.
Weingut Gschweicher, Röschitz
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Reserve
A fruity wine- honeysuckle and tropical notes. Very smooth with a hint of wood because, after all, it is a Reserve.
2009 Grüner Veltliner, Alte Reben
At first, it’s sweeter and then smooth as silk on the palate. Aromas are fruity and florally. Finishes dry.
Weingut Herbert Zillinger, Ebenthal
2008 Grüner Veltliner, Radikal
A bit sweeter than the average Grüner and not overly acidic. Yellower in color with an almond finish. Drinking with peppery Asian food makes the wine taste sweeter and helps to calm the spiciness of food.
Weingut Setzer, Hohenwarth
2008 Grüner Veltliner, “8000”
Peppery and fabulous, the wine pleasantly lingers in your mouth long after you’ve swallowed. Sip or pair with spicy Asian food for a double the peppery trouble… yummy!
For more information about Grüner Veltliner and Austrian wines, check out our posts Part 1 – Austria’s Flagship Wine: Grüner Veltliner and Part 2 – Destination Austria: Weinviertel Wine Region.
What’s your favorite Grüner Veltliner?
Disclosure: TravelPlusWine visited Weinviertel DAC on a sponsored media trip as part of the 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna, Austria
As Austria’s largest wine-growing area, Weinviertel stretches from the Danube River in the south to the Czech border in the north and Slovakia to the east.
Out of 15,000 hectacres planted with grape vines, more than half contain Grüner Veltliner, the true star of this DAC.
Why was the Weinviertel DAC formed?
Originally known for its cheap table wines, the Weinviertel DAC was established in 2001 and has worked hard to establish a distinctive profile for this viticulture area. The region is now strictly controlled and wines have to be approved by the Regional Wine Board before they can be labeled Weinviertel DAC.
The Tasting Profile
Hard work has paid off because today, people now know what to expect when they open a wine labeled Weinviertel DAC or Weinviertel DAC Reserve.
You can expect a quality wine made from Grüner Veltliner.
A Classic Grüner Veltliner from Weinviertel will be:
- light yellow to greenish-yellow in color
- Maximum residual sugar of 6g/l
- Minimum of 12% alcohol
- No notes of wood or Botrytis
- Fine peppery, spicy-fruity taste
The Reserve will have the same criteria as the Classic, but also:
- Precious and exquisite, with a tight structure and a long finish
- Robust stylishness
- Minimum alcohol 13%
- Maximum residual sugar of 9g/l
- Delicate note of wood or Botrytis is allowed
Conveniently located just outside Vienna, the picturesque Weinviertel won’t disappoint wine lovers.
As a wine tourism destination, the region offers not only amazing peppery wines, but gorgeous towns set among vineyards just waiting to be discovered… by you!
Here are a few things to do in the town of Retz:
Underground wine cellars:
Founded in 1278, the Retzer Erlebnis Keller is a must- see tourist destination for wine lovers. Located beneath the beautiful town of Retz, guided tours are available to view a portion of the 20km network of wine cellars. The tour covers the history of this wine producing region and you just might find yourself in a wine tasting room at the end of your visit!
For a hearty snack, fine wines, great views, and a photo opportunity with the only Dutch windmill of its kind in Austria, be sure and stop by Windmühlheurige.
The owners also have a winery that follows organic guidelines and produces Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zweigelt, Blue Portuguese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
The Wines of Weinviertel
So many wines, so little time!
This definitely rings true when visiting Austria! While I definitely recommend creating your own Grüner wine tasting footpath on vacation (ask around for recommendations!), here are a few of my favorite wines to get you started… click here for a list!
Stay tuned… there’s more to come in this series:
Part 3: The Danube Region
Photos courtesy of Weinviertel DAC. Disclosure: TravelPlusWine visited Weinviertel DAC on a sponsored media trip as part of the 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna, Austria.
If you had to describe Austria in a bottle of wine, Grüner Veltliner would be the perfect expression.
A wine known for centuries and perhaps consumed by the Romans, it wasn’t until the mid 19th century that this variety took on its current name, Grüner Veltliner.
Austria offers the perfect climate to produce this dry, fruity wine.
Today, it is planted in over one third of Austria’s vineyards and served at the finest restaurants around the world.
Dry, fruity in flavor and smell — I consistently taste lemon, with a very fine white pepper, spicy after-taste.
This of course, depends on the region and winemakers, which can make wines within the Grüner Veltliner variety as different and distinct as Pollak and Renoir paintings. Within this realm, I’ll get anything from green apples to honey, oaky creaminess to heavy minerality.
Generally, Grüner Veltliners tend to be full-bodied, well-made, well-balanced, fresh, and fun. See my notes on food below and you’ll be blown away.
A Classic Grüner Veltliner is not oaky and has a minimum alcohol content of 12%. The Reserve on the other hand is a bit oaky and minimum alcohol content is 13%.
The Grüner Veltliner Difference:
An aspect so fascinating and rare about the white Grüner Veltliner is its amazing ability to age, unlike many white wines.
With that being said, Austrians love their wines young, so most of the product is destined for immediate consumption. But, nevertheless, I thought it worth the mention… you never know when you’ll get your hands on a really great bottle of Reserve Grüner Veltliner! It could add some diversity to your wine collection.
When it comes to food pairings, Grüner Veltliner deserves all the diversity accolades. Spicy Asian food, Japanese sushi, Indian curry, Spanish tapas, Austrian Wienerschnitzel, French cuisine, seafood, tofu, olives… you name it, you can pair it with Grüner Veltliner!
In fact, have you ever considered what wine could not only taste great with egg, but make an egg taste delightful? You guessed it… Grüner Veltliner. A rare accomplishment, indeed.
All eyes on Grüner Veltliner:
This grape variety is increasing in worldwide popularity and definitely worth keeping an eye on in the upcoming months and years. It’s an all-around fun, fresh wine you can enjoy anytime of year with a wide variety of foods and palates.
Stay tuned… there’s more to come in this series:
Part 3: The Danube Region
(Photos courtesy of Weinviertel DAC)