All About Grüner Veltliner

with No Comments

Pronunciation: grooh-ner velt-leeh-ner

Grüner Veltiner is a white grape variety grown primarily in Central Europe; this grape is particularly famous in Austria, where it is believed to have originated. Although there are many styles of Grüner, the signature style is light, dry and acidic. Grüner Veltliner is beloved in this part of the world, but it is also gaining notable popularity in the new world as well. 

Although the name may be unfamiliar to some, Grüner Veltliner is quite approachable and is widely available at restaurants and retail shops around the world. Imports from Austria are often very high quality, while still maintaining a reasonable price point. Slovakia, Croatia, and the Czech Republic are also notable producers of Grüner. 

The most common style of Grüner Veltliner is known for being exceptionally acidic, and often has an intense, mouthwatering finish. Grüner has a unique flavor profile, with distinct minerality, notes of herbs, and occasional soft spice. Thanks to its brightness and acidity, Grüner Veltliner is a notoriously food friendly wine.

Grüner is typically bottled in green glass in the Alsace shaped bottle. When poured, this wine will be a stunning pale straw shade, and relatively light in body. Grüner Veltliner is sometimes referred to as Grüner, Veltliner, Green Veltliner, Grüner Muskateller, Veltlinské Zelené and even GrüVe. 

Growers in the new world have been experimenting with Grüner in recent years, although on a significantly smaller scale. Regions in Australia, Canada and the United States have successfully grown this grape, and will no doubt develop distinct regional styles as they refine growing and producing methods.

Grüner Veltliner Tasting Notes

Wine tasting notes/flavor profiles

Primary Notes: Lime, Grapefruit, Apple, Tropical Fruit

Secondary Notes: Crushed Rock, Flint, Asparagus, Honey

Tertiary Notes, White Pepper, Tarragon, Sage

Body – light to medium

Finish – high acidity, low sweetness

Typical ABV% – 11.5-13.5%

Grüner Veltliner Styles

Grüner Veltliner can take on many different personalities. The method of aging, soil and climate have a significant impact on the end product. Of course this is true of all varieties to some degree, but Grüner is even more susceptible to these elements than others.

Within each Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC), there are three tiers that specify the origin in Austria. Wines that are from a single vineyard are designated as Riedenwein. This is considered the top tier. Below that, are wines originating from a village or municipality, known as Ortswein. Finally, the base tier is called Gebietswein, which ecompasses the whole region.  

The raw, natural personality of the grape shines through in young, fresh and usually inexpensive variations that are aged in stainless steel. These  wines are refreshing and casual, but still interesting to drink. These wines will typically be designated within the Gebiet Wien category. 

Wines designated as Ortwein are expected to be slightly fuller bodied and more complex. The qualities and characteristics of each wine will be specific to each region and will be distinctive from one another. 

Wines originating from a single vineyard within an Austrian DAC are the most expensive and most prestigious. These wines are complex, expressive and terroir driven. They are oak aged, and full bodied. Wines from the Riedenwein designation are known for their ability to age and develop unique textures and flavors with time.

Grüner Veltliner can also be made into dessert wine (eiswein) and sparkling wine. 

Grüner Veltliner Classifications

Austrian Regions: Kamptal DAC, Kremstal DAC, Vienna DAC, Wachau DAC, Wagram DAC and Weinviertel DAC 

Wachau Classifications (from least to most ripe when harvested): 

Steinfeder: up to 11.5% ABV

Federspiel 11.5-12% ABV maximum residual sugar 4g/L 

Smaragd 12.5% or higher, maximum residual sugar 9g/L

When To Drink Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner cooperates with many different cuisines. Austria’s favorite wine pairs nicely with the country’s signature dish; a sip of crisp, ice cold Grüner is a perfect follow up to a bite of rich, buttery Wiener Schnitzel. Other examples of contrasting pairings include pork tenderloin, lamb curry, bratwurst, sashimi and chicken pot pie. 

Grüner’s acidic quality is also a great match to spicy dishes like Pad Thai and Vietnamese Pho. Grüner is wonderful to drink with strongly flavored vegetables that are typically hard to pair with, like bell pepper, asparagus and artichoke. Grüner’s herbaceous nature also compliments lighter dishes that are seasoned with garden fresh or dried herbs.

Grüner is best served very cold, which makes it a perfectly refreshing choice for a hot summer day. 

Grüner Veltliner Serving Temperature – 46-55 ºF (7-12 ºC)

Best Years To Drink Grüner Veltliner

Due to the delicate flavors and sharp acidity, most traditional Grüner is not intended to stand the test of time. Wines in this style are meant to be consumed within 1-2 years of release to preserve the distinct freshness. On the other hand, Grüner that is aged in oak can be cellared for years and can frequently rival high priced Chardonnay. 

Grüner Veltliner Average Prices

At a retail store, buyers can expect to find most bottles between 11-$40. Although some bottles can be very expensive ($100+ for age-worthy reserve quality), Grüner is overall quite affordable given the quality. 

Grüner Veltliner Nutrition Facts

A 6oz serving is 140 calories on average. Grüner Veltliner is usually dry, with medium alcohol content.

Fun Facts About Grüner Veltliner

Wachau’s classification system is unique to the region. Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd are each designated with a unique character found on the label: a stalk of feather grass, a falcon, and an emerald lizard, respectively. 

The German name Grüner Veltliner literally translates to “green grape from the village of Veltlin in the Tirol”

Over 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner vines are planted in Austria. 

Grüner Veltliner is an ancient natural cross between Savagnin and St. Georgener-rebe. Sauvignon Blanc is also a descendant of Savagnin, making Grüner a very distant relative.


Grüner Veltliner Food Pairing