The Astor Wines & Spirits Glossary


Austrian wine is finally getting the attention it deserves. Ever since the late 1980s, Austrian winemaking has taken a much more rigorous approach to quality control, and returned to its roots in organic viticulture.

Deservedly famous for its white wines (Grüner Veltliners especially), 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, deep in color and featuring bold flavors of red and black currants. The grape has yielded a number of serious and age-worthy wines in Austria, but the majority of Zweigelts that make it to the U.S. are meant to be enjoyed young.

Blaufränkisch is one of the other stars of the red wine scene, growing primarily in Mittelburgenland, one of the warmer climatic regions. The grape delivers fruit-forward, light- to medium-bodied reds, typically showing flavors of black cherry and spice. They're perfectly suited to food pairing situations that might otherwise call for Pinot Noir or even Cabernet Franc.
St. Laurent makes soft-textured, well-structured, crowd-pleasing red wines that have been compared to both Merlot and Pinot Noir. We frequently recommend them to newcomers to Austrian wine.
Of course, the superstar of Austrian wine is the white Grüner Veltliner grape - and for good reason, as it grows ubiquitously and quite well throughout the country. This spicy little green grape yields medium- to full-bodied wines with bright acidity and hints of citrus and pear.
We would never overlook the amazing Rieslings coming out of Austria. From dry to sweet, Austrian Rieslings can compete with the best in the world in terms of quality and ageability. (It bears repeating, for those who are not fans of sweetness, that many Rieslings are completely dry - ask our sales staff if you're ever unsure.)
Not to be confused with Riesling is the popular Austrian grape Welschriesling, which produces a much lighter, less aromatic style of white wine - quite enjoyable in its own right, just not the same grape.

Don't let the names intimidate you. Austria puts out scores of incredible grapes and wine styles nowadays, and the level of quality has never been so high. It's time to start getting to know them all - and any time you can learn by drinking, it's cause for celebration!

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