Grüner Veltliner: History And Food Pairings


Looking for a wine that goes with everything? Imagine yourself hosting dinner but you’re at a loss with what wine to serve. Well, worry no more, Grüner Veltliner does just that, you can pair it with practically anything from salads to cold meats.

For vegans and vegetarians, it’s also not a problem as there are lots of Grüner Veltliner that are vegan-friendly. The Guardian has listed it on The Best Vegan Wines article, so go ahead and enjoy some now. So join us as we explore this versatile wine and get to know it better.

What is Grüner Veltliner?

Grüner Veltliner is a dry wine derived from a variety of white wine grapes grown primarily in Austria. It is used as an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc with its green pepper and lime essence. When translated, the name means “Green Wine of Veltlins” after Veltlin, a region in the lower Alps that is now a part of the valley of Valtellina, Italy.

Its flavor is described as having a nutty and spicy taste along with hints of lemon, lime, nectarine, and grapefruit. Higher quality Grüner Veltliner gives an aftertaste that’s tingly and delicate on the palate. Its uniqueness comes from its acidity that replicates the effects of pop rocks in the mouth.

Its spiciness is comparable to ginger, tarragon, iris, green beans, radish, and lovage. It has a very pale green color and usually come in dark green bottles. It has similarities with Pinot Blanc, Dry Riesling, Vermentino, Colombard, Muscadet, and Grenache Blanc.

Short History of Grüner Veltliner

Even with the name veltliner attached to it, grüner is no way related to other veltliner grapes such as roter veltliner and frühroter veltliner. There is no absolute record for the origins of these Austrian grape varieties, but one of its parent grapes is the Savagnin variety. This explains its similarity to Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, and the pinot grape variety. A second parent is the almost extinct variety, St. Georgener-rebe found in Austria’s Burgenland.

The name Grüner Veltliner is relatively young, established only in the 1930s. The earliest known documentation of it on old vine books was only in 1855. Although this may be the case, the wine is believed to have been consumed since Roman times and was known by its old name “Weissgipfler.”

The grape was regarded as just another Austrian grape until the Second World War. It wasn’t even widely cultivated until a system of vine training was introduced by a winemaker named Lenz Moser. He addressed the problems with growing the grapes that led to its proliferation.

The grapes had become easier to grow thanks to this new system of trellising the grapes. Today, it is used to train 90% of Austria’s grapevines. Grüner Veltliner is now Austria’s most planted variety after seeing a boom in its plantation in the 1950s.

It can be said that recognition for this undervalued wine was a bit slow to come, but a wine tasting event in 2002 changed that. A buzz was created when Masters of Wine Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin organized the event and the interest for Grüner Veltliner has skyrocketed since.

Is Grüner Veltliner Vegan?

Determining which wines are vegan or not can be simple and easy. They’re fermented grapes, after all. But sometimes, little do we know that the production process may include the use of animal or meat products. Making wine involves using filtering or fining agents made from animal byproducts such as isinglass from fish bladders, albumen from egg whites, casein from milk, or gelatin that comes from animal parts.

There are now a lot of vegan-friendly Grüner Veltliner wines on the market that are free from any animal byproducts. They come as unfiltered or unfined and are often hazy. There are also filtered and fined kinds that use inorganic fining agents such as charcoal, synthetic polymer, or bentonite clay.

More and more winemakers are labeling their bottles as vegan-friendly. It’s now easier to find vegan Grüner Veltliner because of this. In addition, marketing them has also become more widespread, finding them is now effortless.

Where It Grows Best

Grüner Veltliner is also grown in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, but Austria has the most concentration of its plantations, raking in 75% of the world’s production. Austria, as of 2008, has a whopping 42,380 acres of Grüner Veltliner plantations. The Czech Republic a close second, having around 5,200 acres of it.

The grapes thrive in cool climates typical in elevated regions where they are mostly cultivated. They do well whether exposed to the elements or on sheltered slopes. They can grow on a wide array of soils—gravel, clay, and loess. It may be up for debate but the best tasting ones are those grown from the northeast regions near the Danube River such as the Kremstal, Wachau, and Kamptal.

5 Famous Grüner Veltliner Names

Here are five of the best names in Grüner Veltliner that are vegan-friendly:

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Loss 2018

Get a taste of tropical fruits with hints of white pepper and the spice of grapefruit. It provides a refreshing and cleansing taste that’s perfect to pair with seafood.

Meinklang Grüner Veltliner

Tastes best when paired with vegetable dishes, Meinklang Grüner Veltliner has the distinctly savory flavors of white pepper, celery salt, and leafy herbs. It also has notes of green apple and pear added to this delicious mix.

Nautilus Estate Grüner Veltliner 2016

With an aftertaste of spice and honeydew melon, this Grüner Veltliner is ideal for pairing with authentic Austrian dishes. It has a pithy texture on the palate and notes of white peppercorn and Bosc pears.

Seifried Estate Grüner Veltliner 2017

The nose gives out floral and slate impressions and slowly gets back to its origins of white pepper and pear notes. It has a fine texture that’s succulent on the palate.

Biokult Grüner Veltliner 2017

Having an aromatic nose of arugula, lime and its fresh herb overtones complete the wonderful blend. It has the tang of lemon with a sprinkling of white pepper zing in a dry finish.

The Best Food Pairings

In Austria, Grüner Veltliner is commonly drunk with classic dishes such as sautéed kidneys, schnitzels, smoked ham, and sausages. Being the country’s best known white wine, it wouldn’t come as a surprise when they pair it with almost everything on their menu. And rightly so as it is good when paired with rich and savory foods, ideal for cleansing the palate. 

Grüner Veltliner’s great pairing abilities have even extended to Asian and Asian-Fusion foods. It has become a favorite among Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. It goes well with the taste of Asian spices and is favored as a wine to pair with food in the summer seasons.

Grüner Veltliner goes well with anything but will taste great when you pair it with these dishes:

  • Asparagus, particularly white asparagus. Austrians love this vegetable and are eaten in a variety of ways. It goes with salads, soups, hollandaise, or when grilled.
  • It’s hard to find a wine that goes well with artichokes. Grüner Veltliner is one of the few that you can pair it with and highlight the taste of the vegetable.
  • Salads with apple, cucumber, or kohlrabi taste better with a pairing of this wine. Give your salad an Asian twist and you have perfection.
  • Braised fennel, zucchini gratin, or a vegetarian quiche will taste better with Grüner Veltliner.
  • Cheeses like Camembert, ricotta, or paneer is great with this wine as well as other soft cheeses.
  • Fish like salmon, trout, or eel when smoked taste great with it.

The list can go on as Grüner Veltliner is versatile, the reason world-famous chefs like Wolfgang Puck swear by it. Enjoy!

Summer Thatcher
Summer Thatcher
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