Here’s to the heart of Viennese wine culture and the original nouveau.
WHEN THE SUN’S RAYS LIGHT UP VIENNA and the temperature reaches that comfortable alfresco-dining range, young and old flock from the city centre to the suburbs. In the districts surrounding Austria’s capital, rural meets urban in a setting dotted with charmingly rustic wine taverns fringed by the vineyards that supply them. Called buschenschank — or, colloquially, heuriger (plural: heurigen) — these seasonal farm-to-table restaurants have been a Viennese, and Austrian, tradition for nearly two-and-a-half centuries.
Heuriger is the abbreviation of heuriger wein, which means “this year’s wine” in the Austrian dialect. It also refers to where heuriger wein is sold. Since Austrian Emperor Josef II’s decree — issued on August 17, 1784, permitting residents to open establishments for selling and serving their own wine — the still-frothy, youthful wine of the new vintage would be released on Saint Martin’s Day (November 11), making it the original “nouveau.” Vienna’s heurigen culture was included in 2019 in the national UNESCO index of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Of the many styles on offer, the most emblematic wine of Vienna is the white wine Wiener Gemischter Satz — the “mixed set of Vienna.” Gemischter Satz is made from a mix of different white grapes, up to a dozen or more varieties, and at least three by law, all co-planted together in the same vineyard. Varieties include well-known grapes such as Pinot Gris and Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, and Muscat, as well as local specialities like Neuburger, Zierfandler, Furmint, Traminer, Rotgipfler, and Spätrot. There’s no better way to spend a summer weekend afternoon than sipping Gemischter Satz, alfresco, at a heuriger overlooking the Austrian capital.
• Weingut Wieninger and Hajszan-Neumann
• Weingut Zahel
• Weingut Mayer am Pfarrplatz and Rotes Haus
• Weingut Christ
• Weingut Edlmoser
• Bioweingut Lenikus
— John Szabo MS