The Wines of Austria and Hungary

Blaufränkisch, Grüner Veltliner, Tokaji Aszú… Don’t let the names scare you! Once you taste the wines of Austria & Hungary, you’ll see how easy they are to appreciate.

If you’re thirsty for knowledge, read on for a proper introduction to these wines.

Austria

Deservedly famous for its white wines, Austria makes a number of delicious red wines as well. The most widely grown red grape in Austria is Zweigelt (a.k.a. Blauer Zweigelt), which yields full-bodied wines that are deep in color and feature bold blackcurrant flavors. The grape has yielded a number of serious and age-worthy wines in Austria, but most of the Zweigelts that make it to the US are meant to be enjoyed young.

Blaufränkisch, another star of Austria’s red-wine scene, is grown primarily in Mittelburgenland, one of the warmer climatic regions. The grape makes fruit-forward, light-bodied or medium-bodied reds, typically showing flavors of black cherry and spice. They’re perfect for food pairings that might otherwise call for a Pinot Noir or even a Cabernet Franc.

St. Laurent makes soft-textured, well-structured, crowd-pleasing red wines that have been compared to both Merlot and Pinot Noir. We often recommend St. Laurent to those who are new to Austrian wine – and they usually come back for more!

Of course, the superstar of Austrian wine is the white Grüner Veltliner – and for good reason. The grape grows ubiquitously and well throughout Austria, and these refreshing wines have become wildly popular here in America. The spicy little green grape yields medium-bodied to full-bodied wines with bright acidity and hints of citrus and pear.

Austrian Riesling competes with the best in the world in terms of quality and age-worthiness. It bears emphasizing (for those who never drink sweet wines) that many Rieslings are completely dry. Ask our sales staff if you’re not sure about a bottle.

Overall, Austria is a fun, largely inexpensive region to explore, with many incredible wines under $20 – and quality has never been higher.

Hungary

Tokaji Aszú is a celebrated Hungarian dessert wine made from grapes affected by Botrytis cinerea (botrytized grapes are called aszú in Hungary). Esszencia, a rare form of Tokaji made from the free-run juice of botrytized grapes, is one of the most precious wines in the world.

Hungary may be best known for its dessert wines, but the region produces fine dry wines as well. Furmint, the main grape in Tokaji, makes white wines that are racy, rich, and even age-worthy. Hárslevelu, another ingredient in Tokaji, is a highly perfumed white grape that renders honeyed, full-flavored wines.