Grüner Veltliner is a dry white wine that grows almost only in Austria. With flavors of green pepper and lime, Grüner Veltliner is an exotic alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. The name translates to “Green Wine of Veltlin”. Veltlin was an area in the lower Alps during the 1600’s that is now part of Valtellina, Italy.
In this article we’ll discuss the great range of flavors that Grüner Veltliner offers and learn how to pick a Grüner wine by understanding more about Austrian wine. Additionally, check out some food pairing ideas from badass Austrian chefs like Wolfgang Puck, who love Grüner Veltliner for its hallmark high acidity. Prost!
Grüner Veltliner Wine Guide
There is a very nutty and spicy taste in Grüner Veltliner – Hartmuth Rameder, Weingut Nigl, Kremstal, Austria
The primary fruit flavors in Grüner Veltliner are lime, lemon and grapefruit. There is also a green and herbaceous flavor that is often described as white pepper. However, what makes Grüner Veltliner wine so unique is its signature vein of acidity that explodes in your mouth like pop rocks. More affordable Grüner Veltliner (around the $10-20 mark) loses this acid burst quickly after every sip, but high quality Grüner wine will have a delicate tingly aftertaste.
Is Grüner Veltliner a Dry Wine?
Yes, the majority of Grüner Veltliner is produced in a dry style. Even though some Grüner Veltliner wine has a hint of sweetness, because the acidity is so high most drinkers cannot taste it. Want to see a visual of how much sugar is in wine?
Grüner Veltliner Taste Profile
- FRUIT FLAVORS (berries, fruit, citrus)
- Lime, Lemon, Grapefruit, Nectarine
- OTHER (herb, spice, flower, mineral, earth, other)
- White Pepper, Iris, Green Bean, Radish, Lovage, Tarragon, Ginger, Honey
- OAK FLAVORS (flavors added with oak aging)
- Brazil Nut, Cream, Wax Pepper
- GRŰNER VELTLINER SERVING TEMPERATURE
- 46 ºF (7 ºC)
- SIMILAR VARIETIES
- Dry Riesling, Grenache Blanc, Muscadet, Picpoul, Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng
- Veltlinské Zelené (Czech)
Where does Grüner Veltliner Come From?
There are about 50,000 acres of Grüner Veltliner worldwide. Over 75% of Grüner Veltliner wines come from Austria.
Styles of Austrian Grüner Veltliner Wine
Light & Zesty
Most Austrian Grüner Veltliner imported into the United States are in this style. The bottles are usually dark green and the wine itself is a very pale green. Plan on drinking this type of Grüner Veltliner young, within 1-2 years of the vintage and don’t be surprised to see tiny bubbles. Expect hair-raising acidity and flavors of green bean and lime zest. Grüner Veltliner is best served ice-cold on a hot summer day.
What to Look For
Grüner Veltliner under 2 years of age that is below 12.5% ABV. Expect to spend about $10-$20. In the Wachau region of Austria, wines designated “Federspiel” or “Steinfeder” will be in the style. Also, these wines commonly have screw tops.
$15 Leth Grüner Veltliner 2012
“An easy drinking Gruner Veltliner, with white pepper, green peas, lime, and lemon notes. The palate is medium in weight, with great minerality and refreshing acidity.” Available at Wine Library
Rich & Nutty with a Tingly Finish
This style of Grüner Veltliner is much richer but still has Grüner’s hallmark acidity. Imagine rich textured layers of lemon, honey, nuts and a feint creaminess. Winemakers use their best fruit for this style and often label their wines “Reserve”. Expect this style of Grüner Veltliner to be available 3-6 years after its vintage date and have a rich gold-green hue.
What to Look For
Look for Grüner Veltliner that are above 12.5% ABV. In the Wachau region, this wine style is called “Smaragd” and has a picture of a lizard on the quality label. Don’t be surprised if these wines cost more that $50 retail.
$49 “Lamm” Hirsch Grüner Veltliner 2010
“Ripe and perfumed, this has almond, apple and baked-pear flavors that are layered with notes of nutmeg and pepper… WE” Available at Wine Library
Grüner Veltliner Food Pairing
Spicy and quite rich foods. Wini Brugger, Indochine Restaurant, Vienna
Think spice. Grüner Veltliner is crisp and a perfect palate cleanser for richly flavored foods. While Grüner wines pair with classic Austrian dishes like sautéed kidneys, its newfound glory is with Asian spices. It’s also one of the few still wines that hold up against challenging vegetable fare such as artichoke and grilled asparagus.
Traditional Austrian Wiener Schnitzel
Weiner Schnitzel is a traditional Austrian dish made with thinly sliced veal cutlet that is coated with egg, crusted and then fried in butter or oil. The acidity and spice in Grüner Veltliner matches every bite of the creamy rich meat. Another perfect pairing borrowed from another cultural cuisine is Tonkatsu from Japan, a panko-breaded and fried pork cutlet that is served sliced into strips.
Wiener Schnitzel, to me, and a great glass of Grüner Veltliner is a perfect meal. Wolfgang Puck
Veal, Turkey, Kidney, Chicken, Pork Chops, Paté, Terrine, Egg. Fish including Haddock, Trout, Halibut, Snapper, Fresh Grilled Sardines, Anchovies, Caviar, Shrimp, Mussels, Clams
Spices and Herbs
Ginger, White Pepper, Chives, Shallots, Lime, Lemon, Tarragon, Dill, Cumin, Coriander, Green Onion, Turmeric, Green Cardamom, Allspice, Sichuan Pepper, Sumac, Sansho, Shiso, Mace, Lemon Balm, Curry Leaves, Madras Curry blend, Capers, Zahtar Spice blend
Soft Cheeses. Cow’s or Goat’s milk. Look for rich creamy cheeses such as Camembert and fresh cheeses like ricotta or paneer.
Vegetables & Vegetarian Fare
Asparagus, Artichoke, Sun Choke, Potatoes, Green Beans, Coconut, Wax Pepper, Bell Pepper, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Leeks, Endive, Radish, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Celery, Jicama, Cabbage
Sources: All about Veltlin and the Grey Leagues [wikipedia] Name Origin [Jancis Robinson] Austrian Wine in Depth [Austria Wine USA] Wolfgang Puck [Austrian Wine USA] Special thanks to Constance Chamberlin and Aldo Sohm