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Viennese wine is among the finest in Europe, with a vineyard culture no other capital city can rival and a legacy dating all the way to 1132AD. Heuriger (translating to mean ‘this year’s wine’) are cosy wine taverns run by local grape growers, offering guests the chance to sample some locally produced wines alongside traditional Austrian cuisine.
Vienna’s relationship with wine began in the Middle Ages, when each individual district possessed its own vineyard – something which was discontinued as the city grew in size. Later on, in the 16th century, wine taverns emerged throughout the city, giving local growers the opportunity to serve their homemade wine with traditional Austrian cuisine and giving birth to the Viennese ‘Heurige’ tradition.
A warm and homely atmosphere is at the heart of every Heurige. They are places in which to relax, socialise, and most importantly, sample some authentic Austrian wine and food. If visiting a ‘true Viennese’ Heurige, the wine served should be strictly from the surrounding areas – one way to ensure that this is the case is by checking the board outside – if it is indeed Viennese, you’ll see a bunch of pine branches and the word ‘Ausg’steckt’, a word that also indicates that the tavern is open for business.
The food served, usually in buffet form, is generally fairly simple and homely – ordinarily including various meats, cheeses, salads and some desserts. Your choice of wine is obviously the most vital part of your visit. Grüner Veltliner is an absolute imperative; it is one of Austria’s best and most famous white wines, and is most likely to have been produced in the area. Alternatively, Sturm (partially fermented grape juice) is another speciality worth sampling, however it isn’t to everyone’s tastes.
There are around 180 Heurige in Vienna, therefore choosing just one can be a tricky process. The Vienna Heurigen Express alleviates anxiety over decision making, taking you on a hop-on hop-off tour of a few of the city’s wine taverns and through the picturesque Vienna Woods, known as the city’s ‘Green Lung’.
Located south of Vienna, this charming tavern has been producing wine since 1947 and has a proud heritage. Varieties include Grüner Veltliner, Weisser Burgunder, Welschriesling, Chardonnay and various red wine varieties.
Living up to Heurige’s homely reputation, this charming tavern can be found on the outskirts of the vineyards, in the wine-growing village of Neustift.
The highlight of this truly authentic, rustic Heurige is the outdoor courtyard in which you can sip in the sunshine.
With more of a local vibe than the aforementioned, this cosy restaurant has a charming garden and a great selection of cuisine to sample.
Another way to become acquainted with Vienna’s Heuriger culture it to join in on the annual Autumn Wine Hiking Day, which offers you the chance to explore the city’s gorgeous, vineyard-covered countryside and sample a few glasses along the way.